Badly Outraised, Trump Hosting Quarter-Million-A-Couple Fundraiser Just Before Debate

The president is asking for big donations after Joe Biden pulled in $280 million in small donations in the third quarter ― $64 million more than Trump.

Outraised in the closing months by Democratic challenger Joe Biden, President Donald Trump is holding yet another high-dollar fundraiser, this one just hours before Thursday night’s final debate in Nashville, Tennessee, with ticket prices as high as $250,000 per couple.

Presidential candidates ― particularly incumbents, who have the prestige of the White House behind them ― generally do not spend valuable time raising money in a campaign’s final days. Trump, who held a $12 million fundraiser in Newport Beach, California, on Sunday that also brought in $8 million for allied super PACs, is proving to be the exception.

“Why are we doing a fucking fundraiser in Nashville?” wondered one top Republican close to the White House who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It just seems late for doing that. ... I guess they must need the money.”

From the time he became the GOP nominee in 2016, Trump, his campaign and the Republican National Committee have boasted of his ability to raise small-dollar donations ― less than $200 each, but often just $5 or $10 at a time ― from his loving fan base.

But in the crucial final months of the campaign, Trump watched as Biden blew past him in that category on the Democrat’s way to grabbing a mammoth fundraising advantage heading into the final 34 days of the race.

Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump moves to the song "YMCA" at the end of a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 20.
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump moves to the song "YMCA" at the end of a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 20.
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Biden, the Democratic National Committee and their joint fundraising committee pulled in $279,793,003 in donations smaller than $200 each from July 1 through Sept. 30, according to a HuffPost analysis of Federal Election Commission filings. Trump, the Republican National Committee and their joint committees raised $216,163,379 ― nearly $64 million less ― in small-dollar donations over the same period.

What’s more, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee ― which actively solicits small donations through emails and text messages ― wound up spending far more for every dollar raised in the last three months than it had in the previous three.

In July, August and September, Trump MAGA spent $181 million to bring in $236 million ― meaning it was spending 77 cents for every dollar raised. Over the April, May and June period, the committee had spent $59 million to bring in $125 million ― a ratio of 47 cents for every dollar.

Both of the campaigns and parties filed reports with the FEC detailing their September contributions and expenditures late Tuesday. Taken together, they show that Biden and the Democratic Party had $415 million in the bank heading into October, while Trump and the Republican Party had $252 million.

The GOP source said that a quarter billion was generally considered plenty for just 34 days, but acknowledged that Biden’s $163 million advantage was significant, allowing him to run television ads just about everywhere while Trump’s campaign had to pick and choose.

The president’s campaign has spent lavishly on salaries and fees for its top officials and consultants. It has also funneled a total of $8 million back to Trump’s various businesses and has been secretly paying the girlfriend of one Trump son and the wife of another $15,000 a month, keeping those payments out of FEC records where they could be seen by donors and the public.

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