Trump's cash crunch

Count me in with those who suspect that Donald Trump is no billionaire, but merely a poseur who may never have recovered from his many big-deal failures, as AT and others have already noted.  Ted Cruz is finally bringing this idea up, but it's a testimony to just how opaque Trump has made his finances that only recently has anyone outside the financial press even discussed the matter.

Trump just released his fourth-quarter FEC report, and again, the political press doesn't know what to make of it – beyond the fact that he lent his campaign $12.8 million, which in part went to pay back Trump entities for travel and event services.  Real billionaires don't campaign like that; your Linda McMahon and Ross Perot and Meg Whitman just write checks for tens of millions without batting an eye.  Trump, however, seems to be hoping (or needing) to get that money back in the future.

Trump has relied on the roughly $6.5 million in unsolicited small donations he received the last 3 months to pay for his late-starting television buys.  This means he was badly outspent in Iowa, tying with Bobbie Jindal for money spent on Iowa TV.  Then Trump's lack of organization in Iowa proved fatal, running against the competent Rubio campaign and the tech-savvy Cruz operation.  And Trump made a laughingstock of his campaign with Tea Party reject Katrina Pierson.  In fact, there hardly is an actual campaign – just his children, domestic staff, and Twitter followers.

Since Trump has ruled out asking for donations or allowing a super-PAC to help him, how far can he get with small, unsolicited donations and more personal loans?  I would guess at least another month, since the primary schedule is fairly light, and he should do well in upcoming New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.  The news in February will be dominated by the second-tier candidates like Kasich and Christie and Bush admitting defeat.  (How long it takes Mad Mike Murphy to spend all the Bush millions and maximize his salary is still anyone's guess.)

But March 1 is Super Tuesday, where the campaign turns national.  You can't play unless you actually have a real organization and substantial funds.  Cruz and Rubio have all that.  Does Trump?  I doubt it.

I think the unsolicited easy money has already been collected.  Trump will then have to scramble to make some more personal loans or reverse himself and ramp up a real fundraising operation to keep his campaign afloat.  Or he could just find a face-saving excuse to drop out.  Is one of his daughters having a wedding in the near future?

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.

Count me in with those who suspect that Donald Trump is no billionaire, but merely a poseur who may never have recovered from his many big-deal failures, as AT and others have already noted.  Ted Cruz is finally bringing this idea up, but it's a testimony to just how opaque Trump has made his finances that only recently has anyone outside the financial press even discussed the matter.

Trump just released his fourth-quarter FEC report, and again, the political press doesn't know what to make of it – beyond the fact that he lent his campaign $12.8 million, which in part went to pay back Trump entities for travel and event services.  Real billionaires don't campaign like that; your Linda McMahon and Ross Perot and Meg Whitman just write checks for tens of millions without batting an eye.  Trump, however, seems to be hoping (or needing) to get that money back in the future.

Trump has relied on the roughly $6.5 million in unsolicited small donations he received the last 3 months to pay for his late-starting television buys.  This means he was badly outspent in Iowa, tying with Bobbie Jindal for money spent on Iowa TV.  Then Trump's lack of organization in Iowa proved fatal, running against the competent Rubio campaign and the tech-savvy Cruz operation.  And Trump made a laughingstock of his campaign with Tea Party reject Katrina Pierson.  In fact, there hardly is an actual campaign – just his children, domestic staff, and Twitter followers.

Since Trump has ruled out asking for donations or allowing a super-PAC to help him, how far can he get with small, unsolicited donations and more personal loans?  I would guess at least another month, since the primary schedule is fairly light, and he should do well in upcoming New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.  The news in February will be dominated by the second-tier candidates like Kasich and Christie and Bush admitting defeat.  (How long it takes Mad Mike Murphy to spend all the Bush millions and maximize his salary is still anyone's guess.)

But March 1 is Super Tuesday, where the campaign turns national.  You can't play unless you actually have a real organization and substantial funds.  Cruz and Rubio have all that.  Does Trump?  I doubt it.

I think the unsolicited easy money has already been collected.  Trump will then have to scramble to make some more personal loans or reverse himself and ramp up a real fundraising operation to keep his campaign afloat.  Or he could just find a face-saving excuse to drop out.  Is one of his daughters having a wedding in the near future?

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.