Speed Reads

2020 watch

Trump's re-election campaign is burning money — but does he have a strategy?

The 2020 election is still more than a year and a half away, but President Trump's re-election campaign has been raking in record-setting sums for months. Trump is also spending a lot of that money already, dropping $23 million in the last quarter of 2018 alone.

Many of those expenditures were focused on Republican candidates on the ballot in 2018, with about $8 million going to online and TV advertising and $1.5 million spent on Trump's beloved campaign rallies. The president's campaign also owes the U.S. Treasury about $1 million for travel expenses, and it's spending hundreds of thousands on legal services and campaign consultants. "Make America Great Again" hats are a significant cost too, running the campaign $289,000 in the final three months of last year.

Most of Trump's campaign funding comes from small contributions, but major donors matter too — and they're reportedly getting nervous there's no strategy behind all this spending.

A recent meeting with more than 100 big contributors and Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, left the donors unsatisfied Trump has a viable plan for re-election, Politico reported Monday. "There's a lot of anxiety," one such donor, who is also a friend of the president, told Politico. "There isn't a lot of confidence ... among the donor group, the broader Republican group important to the reelection."

"Donors are asking for the plan and they have no plan," said an independent adviser with ties to the campaign. "There's not a strategy." And even if there is a strategy, another donor mused, there is no guarantee Trump can stick to it: "The problem is the president can't and won't stay on message, push an issue in any kind of sustained way, stay out of trouble for more than five minutes."