TALLAHASSEE — Donald Trump’s campaign said Tuesday that it has scheduled no more big-money fundraising events to benefit the Republican Party, another sign of the GOP nominee’s struggling campaign and a serious blow to the party’s get-out-the-vote operations with less than two weeks to go until Election Day.
The consequences of halting major fundraisers will compound the challenges facing a candidate and a party already straining to match Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s much larger and better-
financed operation. Unlike Clinton, who has an extensive turnout operation of her own, Trump and many other GOP candidates down the ballot are relying heavily on the Republican National Committee to bring voters to the polls.
In another sign of unexpected weakness, Trump also announced that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the GOP vice-presidential nominee, will pay a visit Wednesday to Utah, where polls show Trump is at risk of losing what has been a reliably Republican state.
The developments came as both Clinton and Trump campaigned in Florida on Tuesday, underscoring the state’s importance on Nov. 8, particularly for Trump, who acknowledged that he probably cannot win the White House without carrying the state.
Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s national finance chairman, said in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday that Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the party and the campaign, held its last formal fundraiser on Oct. 19.
“We’ve kind of wound down,” Mnuchin said, referring to formal fundraisers. “But the online fundraising continues to be strong.”
While Clinton is headlining her last fundraiser Tuesday night, outside Miami, her campaign has scheduled 41 other events between now and Nov. 3 featuring high-profile surrogates such as her daughter, Chelsea, running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and the entertainer Cher, according to a schedule sent to donors over the weekend.
Mnuchin said the Trump campaign is continuing to help bring in funds for the party, but decided to keep the candidate’s final weeks focused on taking his message to the voters in person rather than on raising money.
During three events in Florida on Tuesday, Trump sought to focus his message on spikes in health-insurance premiums for Affordable Care Act plans, arguing that the law was “blowing up” and vowing to introduce legislation on his first day in office to replace it.
“Repealing Obamacare and stopping Hillary’s health-care takeover is one of the single most important reasons that we must win on November 8,” Trump declared at an evening rally here in Tallahassee.
But Trump, who has not focused much on the health-care law during his campaign, bungled his argument earlier in the day during an event at his luxe Trump National Doral Miami resort, where he suggested that “all my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare.” He acknowledged minutes later that the resort — as required by law — offers health-care plans to its employees; Doral’s director said 95 percent of workers were covered.
Trump also reminded reporters that he is scheduled to leave the campaign trail on Wednesday to attend the official grand opening of his new Trump-branded hotel on Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue. “I always said I’m getting to Pennsylvania Avenue one way or another,” he quipped as employees behind him laughed.
During a radio interview Tuesday, Clinton touted the ACA as “a major step” forward and vowed, as she has before, to “fix problems” with the law.
“I’m sure you noticed, predominantly working people, African American, Latino people now have access to insurance, but the costs have gone up too much,” Clinton told WHQT-FM in Miami. “So we’re going to really tackle that. We’re going to get copays and premiums and deductibles down. We’re going to tackle prescription drug costs. And we can do that without ripping away the insurance that people now have.”
On the first of a two-day swing through Florida, Clinton told an enthusiastic crowd in Coconut Creek that she is optimistic about the election but warned her supporters about becoming complacent.
“I feel good, but boy, I’m not taking anything for granted,” Clinton said at Broward College’s North Campus.
As she has in recent days in other states, Clinton urged the audience to take advantage of early voting opportunities. She noted that her staff was available to escort people to a nearby location.
“You can go across the street right now,” Clinton said.
Clinton also took several jabs at Trump, including mocking his proposed “deportation force” to remove undocumented immigrants from the country.
Speaking in a state with a sizable Latino population, Clinton called the idea “so unimaginable.”
“I think it is so wrong, and it is not going to happen in America,” she said.
Clinton also picked up the endorsement Tuesday of Colin L. Powell, a retired four-star general who also served as secretary of state.
In a brief interview, Powell said he had made the announcement during an appearance before the Long Island Association. “I said that I would be voting for her,” Powell said. Asked why, he said: “Because I think she’s qualified, and the other gentleman is not qualified.”
Powell joins a growing list of Republican national security figures who have endorsed Clinton. While Trump claims a long list of military endorsers, no former secretary of state has publicly backed his bid.
During an afternoon rally in Sanford, Trump declared that “we’re going to win Florida” and opened another line of attack on President Obama. The GOP nominee claimed that hacked emails released by WikiLeaks show that Obama knew about Clinton’s private use of an email server while she was secretary of state.
“President Obama claimed to have no knowledge whatsoever of Clinton’s illegal email server,” Trump said, later adding, “but newly public emails — WikiLeaks — prove otherwise.”
The White House declined to comment on Trump’s allegations. Press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters earlier on Tuesday that while the president had Clinton’s personal email address, he did not know where her server was located.
Trump also used the rally to continue his argument that the media has conspired to rig the election in Clinton’s favor.
He called reporters at the event “a bunch of phony lowlifes” and said that coverage of the race suggesting that Clinton is ahead amounted to “voter suppression because people give up.”
Pence’s plans to visit Utah show again the increasingly perilous position that Trump faces in assembling the 270 votes needed to prevail in the electoral college.
During an interview Tuesday night with MSNBC’s Brian Williams, Pence said he was headed West anyway and the campaign wants to “leave no stone unturned in this election.”
“The opportunity to stop into Utah and — and — to rally our support in that state is a great opportunity for us,” Pence said.
The Beehive State has voted for a Republican presidential nominee in every election since 1968, but recent polls give Trump only a slight lead or lock him in a three-way tie with Clinton and conservative independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin.
McMullin is a former Republican congressional aide who is a Mormon and went to college in Utah, his base of support. Some projections show he could become the first third-party presidential candidate to win a state since American Independent Party candidate George Wallace won five Southern states in 1968.
The Clinton campaign has no current plans to send the nominee or running mate Kaine to Utah, according to campaign aides, who said they are relying for now on regional surrogates.
Trump’s campaign is continuing to bring in donations that will boost the party, but the lack of a formal fundraising schedule effectively turns off one of the main spigots to the RNC. The national party collected $40 million through Trump Victory as of Sept. 30. The RNC has relied on the funds to help pay for hundreds of field staffers deployed across the country as part of its national ground operation, which is working to turn out voters to support the entire Republican ticket.
RNC officials said that party leaders, including Chairman Reince Priebus, are continuing to bring in resources for the party. “The RNC continues to fundraise for the entire GOP ticket,” said spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.
New York financier Lew Eisenberg, the top fundraiser for the RNC and chairman of Trump Victory, said that he has been working “in a united effort” with Mnuchin to “continue to raise money from major donors” through phone calls and impromptu events.
“Unlike the period from June 1 to today, we have no organized calendar of events for the next 14 days,” Eisenberg said. “Rather, when the opportunity presents itself, we will have ad hoc fundraisers” with Trump and running mate Pence. In addition, he said, “our state finance chairs will continuing to be raising major donor money for the foreseeable future.”
The GOP candidate held a small Trump Victory event in Florida this week, and there may be a handful of more high-dollar fundraisers in coming days featuring Trump surrogates, including his son Donald Jr., according to people familiar with the internal discussions. But Mnuchin said “there is virtually nothing planned.”
“We have minimized his fundraising schedule over the last month to emphasize his focus on political [events],” Mnuchin said. “Unlike Hillary, who has been fundraising and not out and about, he has constantly been out and about.”
Mnuchin noted that the Trump campaign continues to help bring in donations for the party from individual donors who are writing big checks, as well as through online contributions. “We continue to do fundraising with the party,” he said.
Gold and Wagner reported from Washington. Anne Gearan in Coconut Creek, Fla., and Ed O’Keefe, Karen DeYoung and Susan Levine in Washington contributed to this report.