Trump falling seriously behind Clinton in planning for general election

Donald Trump has rightly been concentrating on winning a first ballot victory at the GOP convention in July.

But, according to this Bloomberg report, the candidate has done very little in setting up the infrastructure to raise the billion dollars that will be required to run a competitive race against Hillary Clinton, nor has he developed procedures to vet a vice presidential hopeful.

“I think the campaign is totally focused on winning the nomination on the first ballot and positioning for the race against Hillary Clinton," said Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally, "and they’re well aware of both the opportunities and challenges they face in terms of fundraising and the vice presidency.”

Some Trump insiders say it’s hard to see much difference under Manafort so far – and suspect Trump still would have won the last few races without the changes to his campaign. Even Trump's early attempts to look more "presidential" have been uneven, with his trademark combativeness flaring again and his first formal foreign policy speech this week being widely panned.

“It’s hard to be a successful candidate wrangler when the candidate won’t be wrangled,” Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said of Manafort. “It’s pretty clear that Donald Trump is his own campaign strategist, campaign manager and chief tweeter.”

Trump’s campaign will certainly grow and become more efficient, Castellanos said. “There is little point in judging his campaign by the standards of any previous effort. This is a totally different animal,” he said.

Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski dismissed doubts, saying Trump and his aides have been underestimated before.

“This campaign has proven we can achieve things that others can’t,” Lewandowski said.

National party officials usually default to the nominee for convention program planning and hefty fundraising for down-ballot races, but no joint account between Trump and the Republican National Committee exists yet (Mitt Romney had one by April last election cycle) and it’s unclear if and when the campaign would take the reins. The Republican National Committee will have accounts in place "very shortly" -- for all three Republican candidates, said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer.

The only thing unusual about this situation is the relationship between the RNC and the Trump camp. Ordinarily, the RNC helps the national campaign in organizing a ground game in key states. But Trump's go it alone style could see him keeping the RNC at arms length. 

This may prove disastrous because Hillary Clinton is already pivoting to the general election and is pouring resources into swing states:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is redeploying its army of primary election staff to traditional general election battleground states in preparation for a campaign against Republican Donald Trump, according to a senior campaign official.

The initial deployment is likely to hit states that have swung between Republicans and Democrats in recent cycles, according to the official, such as Ohio and Florida.

Additionally, with the billionaire businessman looking increasingly likely to be the GOP nominee, the Clinton campaign sees an opportunity to expand beyond this map, said the official, who wasn't authorized to discuss internal plans and wouldn't specify which new battleground states the campaign might initially target.

If Trump is going to self fund his campaign to the tune of a billion dollars, we should wish him well. But if he is going to rely on GOP donor networks, he better get busy setting them up. There is still time to win the organizational battle but going against Clinton's powerhouse fundraising and ground game apparatus, the sooner Trump starts, the better.


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