At the end of last month, Donald Trump’s campaign had roughly $75 million on hand. How could a national candidate and titular head of a major party lose a very close election but have that much money unspent?
Trump had done several fund-raisers for the US Senate election in Georgia saying that Republicans were being outspent and needed urgent help. He was also sending out fundraising pleas for his legal bills required to challenge the election results from November. So how did he end up with so much money left if he was begging for help?
Well, we had a clue some time ago. As noted at the time by this column, Trump took a different approach in raising money for the Republicans trying to retain their Senate seats in Georgia. Since the control of the Senate would be determined by that election, high profile politicians from both parties worked hard to get money. Joe Biden and others who were raising money for the Democratic candidates had the money raised go directly to the candidates. Every fundraising appeal that Trump did for the Republican candidates, he required that half of the money go to his campaign and then he would decide where that half went. As we now know, a good portion stayed in his pocket and Democrats won both of the Senate seats in Georgia by less than 1.5% combined and by doing so, won the majority in the Senate, as well. Republicans can’t help but wonder and Democrats can’t help but be thankful, about what kind of difference $75 million might have made in determining control of the Senate.
But as this column has also talked about before, that is very predictable. Unlike Ronald Reagan, from whom Trump borrowed the ‘Make American Great’ slogan, Trump is not concerned about growing his party or helping other conservatives. Trump’s goal is self-focused and his priority is not on a particular set of principles but on personal power. The fact that Republicans lost control of the Senate, while being outspent in the campaigns in Georgia and while Trump held on to tens of millions of dollars, shows that clearly. And if we need more evidence, we have it from as recently as yesterday when Trump gave a speech at a rally.
In his first public appearance since leaving office, Trump would be setting the tone for where he hoped the country and his Party would go over the next couple of years. He did just that and gave a speech where, among other things, he listed by name 17 people who he was going to work to defeat in the next election. And, oddly– and possibly never before in history have we seen this—every single one of the 17 people that he named were members of his own Party. He did not mention by name even one Democrat. But those 17 were Republicans that had dared to disagree with him and how he handled events of January 6 and so he promised revenge. Because, again, for Trump it is not about fighting for a cause or fighting for his Party or fighting to gain control of the House and Senate to block policies that he opposes. It’s about control and about getting revenge. Because that is his character. That is one thing that is very predictable. And speaking of predictable, does anyone doubt that his political action committee will hire his children and pay them large salaries? Let me know if anyone wants to make that prediction.