As we've long noted, Donald Trump has said he wants to run a different campaign than the one Mitt Romney did in 2012. On that front, he is succeeding handsomely.
—By this point in 2012, Romney had named a leadership team in the critical battleground state of Ohio, and opened more than a dozen "victory centers" there. Trump has done neither of those things yet. That's different.
—So is campaign hiring in general: by June of 2012, Romney had fully-staffed teams working on communications, data, rapid response, and the ground game. Trump does not, with a national staff roughly 1/10 the size of Clinton's.
—Four years ago, Romney Victory sent around $26 million to the RNC in May 2012 to support efforts in the field, raising the national party's total haul for the month to around $34 million. Trump Victory sent around $3 million last month, bringing the party's total for the month to $11 million.
—In June of 2012, Romney was being outspent by President Obama on TV ads, shelling out around $38 million to the Obama campaign's $45 million. Trump is being outspent too. The difference lies in strategy and scale: As of this morning, Hillary Clinton and her allies had reserved roughly $117 million in ad time between now and Election Day, including more than $20 million in key swing states over the next few weeks alone. The Trump figure for that same period, as of this morning, was $0. (There are no digits missing. That is "0," as in "zero," as in "none at all," which is also the amount of sleep GOP officials are getting right now, probably.)
(Late this afternoon, a pro-Trump super PAC announced a $700,000 buy. More on that below.)
Why hasn't the Trump campaign been spending the money? Tonight, we found out why: they don't have it.
At the beginning of this month, Hillary Clinton's campaign announced that it had raised $28 million for the month of May. Trump's campaign said nothing...until tonight, a little more than two hours before the FEC filing deadline, when we learned that he had raised roughly $3 million for the same period, and loaned his campaign another $2 million, ending the month with a little over $1 million in the bank.
Some perspective here: those might be decent numbers. Maybe...if Donald Trump were running for Senate (though not if he were running in his home state.) Or if he were running for president sometime in the 1970s. As it stands, they are jaw-droppingly bad. Here's how bad: Ben Carson's campaign has more cash on hand right now than Trump's does. More than a month ago, his team said he would be making good on his "self-funding" pledge by converting the loans he's made to his campaign — which accounted for nearly all the funds he'd provided — into a gift in the "near future." Since then, he has repeatedly referred to that gift in the past tense. If he's made good on the pledge, it's not evident on the form tonight, which lists more than $45 million in loans made or guaranteed by Trump, and less than $400,000 in outright contributions.
He's undertaken a big new fundraising push, and has several finance events lined up this week alone, but we are less than five months from Election Day, and the result of a fundraising report that looks like this is a swing state spending chart that looks like this:
Another big difference: whatever the internal turmoil might have been, Mitt Romney's campaign team all stayed on board to the bitter end. Last month, Donald Trump fired his national political director of just a few weeks. Today, less than a month before the Republican convention kicks off, he cut loose campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (dropping the bombshell on a Monday morning, thus ensuring tales of campaign chaos would dominate the news cycle. That's also a...novel strategy for a presidential campaign.)
"The dismissal of Lewandowski, a controversial Trump loyalist who chafed at suggestions that the candidate become more presidential, was seen as an urgent effort to calm Trump's allies, donors and Republican Party officials who increasingly have been alarmed by a recent series of missteps and dramas," reported Philip Rucker, Jose DelReal, and Sean Sullivan.
"In March, Trump defended Lewandowski against charges that he assaulted a reporter at a campaign news conference in Florida. But despite his earlier loyalty, Trump decided to let his top aide go on Monday at the urging of his three adult children and many key allies.
"'The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican Primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,' campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement to the media Monday. 'The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication and we wish him the best in the future.'"
If schadenfreude were a natural resource, today the campaign trail was flooded with enough to power the city of Cleveland for a solid week. Conservatives, journalists, and conservative journalists all quickly weighed in on the move, with former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, who filed assault charges against Lewandowski earlier this year after he grabbed her at a Trump campaign rally, offering employment tips:
Another former Breitbart editor had thoughts:
Lewandowski will long be remembered in campaign circles for his hands-on style.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 20, 2016
Even a Trump campaign adviser piled on...
(Hours after this tweet, Caputo was no longer a Trump aide — but the tweet was still posted.)
The campaign has been publicly lagging on all the key indicators, and Lewandowski has long feuded with other members of the staff, but he "has been telling people privately that it was opposition from Trump's children...that ultimately forced him out": "What he is saying to operatives is that the critical mass was finally reached with Trump's kids," said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The former campaign chief is unlikely to be the last to exit. "In conversations with Trump aides, the official was under the impression that the Lewandowski move was a 'surgical' one and that other aides loyal to the ousted campaign manager would not be axed en masse. But the question of whether they would want to stick around after his departure was an open one, the official said."
Soon after he was axed, Lewandowski emerged with several "Everything is Awesome" interviews.
But things aren't awesome. And they probably won't be anytime soon, says Chris Cillizza, because Monday's move doesn't get rid of the campaign figure generating the most damage to the campaign: Trump himself.
"Trump is the campaign manager, chief strategist, lead organizer and every other senior role within the campaign. (Yes, Lewandowski 'managed' the campaign but only in the sense that he executed things that Trump asked him to do. 'Campaign implementer' is a more accurate title for what Lewandowski did.)
"The only way Trump's campaign changes in any meaningful way then is if Trump himself changes. He's rhetorically flicked at the idea of becoming 'more presidential' and insisted that if he is elected president he will act with much more gravitas. But, Trump keeps making that promise — remember how he said he was going to be more presidential once he won the primary? — and not keeping it.
"Why? Because people don't change. Especially very successful people who are 70 years old.
"Firing Lewandowski is totally meaningless unless, in getting rid of his alter ego, Trump finally makes those long promised changes in how he behaves — both toward those in his own party and on the issues facing the country. It's hard to imagine."
Lewandowski's exit is unlikely to have much of an effect on the renewed #NeverTrump push for a delegate insurrection, which Trump has referred to — occasionally in the same speech — as both an "illegal" move by political enemies and a "hoax" dreamed up by the media. It's neither of those things. But how should we think of it?
—It's not completely insane, says Dave Weigel. "At first glance, the #FreeTheDelegates movement is the most ludicrous play yet, timed — with special self-defeating brilliance — right after Trump swept the last few hundred available delegates. As my colleague Ed O'Keefe reports, the movement now counts 'hundreds' of delegates as allies — a number that sounds less impressive when you realize that it's less than the 559 delegates elected for Cruz (R-Tex.).
"But the risk-reward ratio of a convention coup is better than the one that confronted #NeverTrump campaigners before this month. Seriously. The least democratic method of robbing a primary winner is, ironically, the one with the fewest immediate downsides." (His three reasons why it might be just crazy enough to work, maybe: It's exciting, and turns the establishment into the resistance; it would limit Trump's ability to run as a spoiler; and a post-coup general election would be winnable...theoretically.)
—It's destined to fail, says Chris Cillizza. "There were always pockets of resistance to the idea of Trump as the nominee. Just as there are now with the attempt to take the nomination from him. But the reality then is the same as the reality now: The Trump resistance simply isn't as large or as organized as the Trump supporters. (Sidebar: Getting people to vote against Trump at the convention would be a whole heck of a lot easier if there were an alternative people could vote for. There isn't.)
"All of the 'Dump Trump' movements have failed for a very simple reason: The rank-and-file Republican voters wanted (and want) him. That may confound some within the party and make others mad. But it's the reality. And it's time to acknowledge that Republican voters are the ones who get to decide the nominee. And they made their choice clear long ago."
—The gun debate on the Hill went nuclear, as post-Orlando gun control proposals ran into stiff headwinds on Capitol Hill: "The leader of last week’s 15-hour Senate filibuster to force action on guns said Monday that Democrats need to make gun control an 'integral' part of their national security policy as they try to build a political movement to rival the National Rifle Association. The message, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in an interview with Washington Post reporters, should be that Republicans are partially culpable for attacks such as the Orlando nightclub shooting. “We’ve got to make this clear, constant case that Republicans have decided to sell weapons to ISIS,” he said..."
(The vote also offered a case study of the sort of situation where a campaign staff of more than a few dozen people can come in handy: As the debate raged on the Hill, Clinton's campaign tweeted more than half a dozen messages backing Hill Democrats, and sent supporters a text message asking them to call Mitch McConnell's office, with a number embedded in that message. After the vote, she released a statement consisting of the word "Enough." and the names of the Orlando victims. Donald Trump did not do any of those things; there was a 14-hour gap today when the effective head of the Republican Party did not tweet at all, before breaking his silence with a plug for his appearance on Sean Hannity's show.)
—Amid lingering confusion over the Trump super PAC situation, the pro-Clinton Priorities USA just posted its best fundraising month, collecting more than $12 million. The total haul so far, per officials: $88.7 million, with another $45 million in commitments. "The organized and well-funded push for Clinton contrasts sharply with the chaos that surrounds the groups supporting Trump," reports Matea Gold. "At least five super PACs are in the mix, creating confusion among donors unsure where to put their money." There is little data available from most of the groups, but "one of the first groups on the scene, Great America PAC, has raised just $3.5 million since forming in February.
"The super PAC rolled out a new ad Monday spotlighting the massacre in Orlando and featuring a former Navy SEAL who touts Trump as 'willing to make tough choices to protect America.' The spot is part of a $700,000 TV campaign set to air nationally and in key states over the next several weeks."
Here's the new spot:
—Olivia Nuzzi's profile of long-suffering Trump spokeswoman (and political neophyte) Hope Hicks, who probably will not miss Corey Lewandowski, is fascinating: "I wanted Hicks to help me understand just how all this had come to pass, how a person who'd never worked in politics had nonetheless become the most improbably important operative in this election. But she declined my request to talk. Instead, she arranged something more surreal: I could talk about her with Donald Trump, in front of her." In other words: the woman who speaks for Donald Trump may well be the most un-Trumplike individual on staff.
—A reminder that the final spring grandchild totals for 2016 are: Trump 1, Clinton 1
Aidan, the 2nd grandchild of Bill & Hillary Clinton, has left the hospital. pic.twitter.com/gXXsw3ksou— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) June 20, 2016
YOUR DAILY TRAIL PIT STOP: This afternoon, as the campaign world was focused squarely on the drama inside Trump Tower, the RNC wanted to talk about Cleveland. Not the sort of Cleveland talk we reported earlier; their convention team had an update on the plans to prep The Q for the convention, now that the Cavaliers season has finally ended (with a win. Mazel tov!) The message told reporters to get ready for 125,000 balloons and 1,000 pounds of confetti to fall on the night the nominee is announced a month from now. And it included a link to an eight-year-old YouTube clip of a digital elephant jumping on a trampoline, because...do we really need a reason for that?
Correction: Due to a production error, this story misstated the relationship between Ben Shapiro and and Michelle Fields. They were not romantically involved, they were co-workers.