The fact that Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign is having money problems shouldn’t come as a surprise. In general, people don’t like to donate to someone they expect to lose. Some of his biggest 2016 bankrollers, from the NRA to Sheldon Adelson, aren’t funding him this time. Without much money coming in, and with way too much money reportedly being paid to Trump family members, it’s not a surprise that the campaign can’t even afford to properly run TV ads.
But it’s one thing for a campaign to have a woefully insufficient advertising budget, and it’s a whole other thing for a campaign to be so broke that it’s struggling to make payroll. So it’s notable that when Trump promoted Bill Stepien to be his new campaign manager, Stepien’s salary was actually reduced by one third. It’s one thing to be promoted and not get a pay bump. It’s unheard of to be promoted and take a pay cut.
This strongly suggests that when the campaign manager vacancy opened up, it wasn’t filled based on who was best for the job, but instead based on who among Trump’s existing campaign advisers was willing to take a pay cut in exchange for getting the fancy title. This seemingly points to a campaign that’s so broke it can’t even afford to make payroll.
The next thing to watch for will be whether the Trump campaign begins quietly laying people off before the election, or if grumblings surface from Trump campaign staffers who aren’t getting paid on time, or if Trump starts closing his campaign offices in states where he needs to win. Meanwhile, this gives us an opportunity to double down on voter registration and turnout, and run up the score.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report