Donald Trump 2020 presidential campaign

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Donald Trump 2020 presidential campaign
Campaign 2020 United States presidential election
Candidate Donald Trump
President of the United States
Mike Pence
Vice President of the United States
Affiliation Republican Party
Headquarters Trump Tower,
Manhattan, New York City, New York
Key people Brad Parscale (campaign manager)
Michael Glassner (campaign committee manager)[1]
Tim Murtaugh (communications director)[2]
Kayleigh McEnany (national press secretary)[2]
Marc Lotter (strategic communications director)[2]
John Pence (campaign committee deputy executive director)[1]
Bradley Crate (campaign treasurer)[3]
Cole Blocker (finance director)[2]
Megan Powers (administrative operations director)[2]
Chris Carr (political director)[2]
Bill Stepien (senior political adviser)[2]
Justin Clark (senior political adviser)[2]
Lara Trump (senior consultant)[4]
Receipts US$97,852,465.13 [5]
Slogan MAGA.png
Keep America Great![6][7]
Promises made, promises kept[8]

The 2020 Donald Trump presidential campaign is an ongoing re-election campaign by President of the United States Donald Trump, who took office on January 20, 2017.

Trump began his reelection campaign unusually early for an incumbent President. He began spending for his reelection effort within weeks of his election, and officially filed his campaign with the Federal Election Commission on the day of his inauguration. Since February 2017, Trump has held several rallies and a fundraiser for this campaign. He has visited key electoral states. The campaign has raised funds and run two nationwide advertising campaigns. Trump has confirmed in several stump speeches that the slogans for the 2020 race will be "Keep America Great" and "Promises Made, Promises Kept".[9][10][11]

On November 7, 2018, Trump confirmed that Mike Pence would be his vice presidential running mate in 2020.[12] On June 18, 2019, Trump held an official campaign launch event at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.[13]

Background[edit | edit source]

Trump's predecessors merged their campaign committees into their party's committee following their election victories. Following his 2016 election victory, Trump eschewed this presidential tradition and retained a separate campaign committee which continued raising funds. In December 2016, the campaign raised $11 million.[14] These moves indicated that Trump was already eyeing a 2020 run.[15]

Trump started spending money on the 2020 race on November 24, 2016 (sixteen days after the end of the 2016 election). The earliest campaign disbursement that his committees reported was spent towards the 2020 presidential primaries was for the purchase of a Delta Air Lines ticket on this date.[16]

Trump officially filed his reelection campaign with the FEC on January 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration.[17][10][11][18] Trump launched his reelection campaign earlier in his presidency than his predecessors did. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan all declared their candidacies for reelection in the third year of their presidencies.[19][20] Trump filed the papers for his reelection campaign approximately 47 months prior to the date of the election.[19] In contrast, both Reagan and George H. W. Bush filed approximately twelve months, George W. Bush filed approximately eighteen, and both Clinton and Obama filed approximately nineteen months prior to the date of the election.[19]

While previous presidents had held rallies in the early days of their presidency to garner support for legislation, such rallies differed from those held by Trump in that they were funded by the White House rather than by campaign committees.[20][21] One of the advantages of having his campaign committee fund the events is that organizers can more discriminately screen attendees, refusing entry to non-supporters.[22] Trump's February rally in Melbourne, Florida was the earliest campaign rally for an incumbent president.[23][24]

By filing for his campaign as early as he did, Trump gave also himself a head start on fundraising. This can theoretically help discourage primary challengers.[24]

Trump will be 74 years old by election day 2020.[25][26] This would make Trump the oldest-ever presidential nominee on a major party ticket, surpassing Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole, both of whom were age 73 when they were the Republican Party nominees in 1984 and 1996, respectively.[27][28][29]

Since his three predecessors (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama) won reelection, if Trump is reelected, it would be the first time in American history that there have been four consecutive presidents who were elected to two terms.[30][31] If Trump completed his second term on January 20, 2025, he would be 78 years old and would have become the oldest person to serve as president, surpassing Ronald Reagan (who was 77 when he left office in 1989).[lower-alpha 1]

Permanent campaign[edit | edit source]

Although Trump's early campaign filing is extraordinarily unusual, aspects of a "permanent campaign" are not entirely unprecedented in American politics. Such a phenomenon had a presence in the White House at least as early as the presidency of Bill Clinton. Under the advice of Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton's staff continued to engage in campaign methodology once in office, using polling for assistance in making decisions.[23][32]

Political observers who bolster the opinion that a permanent campaign has had a significant impact on recent presidencies argue that decisions by presidents have increasingly been made with considerations to their impact on voter approval.[33]

The concept of a permanent campaign also describes the focus which recent presidents have given to electoral concerns during their tenures in office, with the distinction between the time they have spent governing and the time they have spent campaigning having become blurred.[33] Political observers consider the rise in presidential fundraising as a symptom of the permanent campaign.[33]

The disproportionately large amounts of time that presidents have spent visiting key electoral states (and comparatively small amount of they have spent visiting states that pose little electoral importance to them) has been pointed to as evidence of ulterior electoral motives influencing presidential governance, emblematic of the blurred lines between campaigning and governance in the White House.[33][32] For instance, George W. Bush embarked on 416 domestic trips during his first three years in office. This was 114 more than his predecessor Bill Clinton made in his first three years.[32] In his first year, 36% of Bush's domestic trips were to the 16 states that were considered swing states after having been decided the closest margins during the 2000 election.[32] In his second year, 45% of his domestic travel was to these states, and his third year 39% of his domestic travel was to these states.[32]

According to the Associated Press, a data analysis firm named Data Propria, launched in May 2018 to provide ad-targeting services and run by former officials of Cambridge Analytica, is working on public relations for the Trump 2020 re-election campaign.[34][35][36]

Polling[edit | edit source]

Presidential approval ratings have shown Trump to be one of the least popular presidents in the history of modern opinion polling as of his third year in office.[37][38] Opinion polls have shown low support for Trump when compared to several Democratic candidates, including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris when tested in hypothetical election matchups.[39][37][40] Observers point out that presidential job approval is highly partisan: "During Trump's second year in office, which began Jan. 20, 2018, and ends Jan. 19, 2019, he averaged 87% job approval among Republicans and 8% among Democrats. Independents' views were closer to those of Democrats than to those of Republicans, with an average 36% of independents approving of Trump's performance in office."[41] Gallup polling data shows that job approval for Donald Trump is approximately 87 percent among Republicans versus only 8 percent among Democrats.[42] The reverse was the case for Barack Obama.[43]

Domestic trips made by Donald Trump as U.S. President[edit | edit source]

The following maps document the frequency with which President Trump has visited each state and territory during his presidency.

  Washington, D.C.
  7 or more visits
  6 visits
  5 visits
  4 visits
  3 visits
  2 visits
  1 visit
  0 visits

2017 campaign developments[edit | edit source]

January 2017: Launch[edit | edit source]

On January 10, 2017, Politico reported that Trump would be keeping his campaign offices in Trump Tower open in order to lay the groundwork for a re-election campaign.[15] By that time his campaign offices at Trump Tower already included a staff of about ten people led by Republican strategist Michael Glassner.[15][1] Glassner's deputy is John Pence, nephew of Vice President Mike Pence.[1] The campaign staff was focused on data-building and fundraising for a 2020 reelection campaign.[15][44]

On January 18, Trump revealed, in an interview with The Washington Post, that he had decided Keep America Great would be his 2020 reelection campaign slogan.[6][9] Two days later, on the day of his inauguration, President Trump filed a form with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) declaring that he qualified as a candidate for the 2020 presidential election.[17][11][18]

February 2017: First rally[edit | edit source]

Trump speaking at his first campaign rally in Florida

The first rally organized by the campaign was held on February 18, 2017, in Melbourne, Florida,[45] and was attended by an estimated 9,000 supporters.[46] This was the earliest an incumbent president had ever held a campaign rally.[23] During the rally, Trump defended his actions and criticized the media.[23] He referred to a nonexistent incident that had supposedly happened in Sweden the previous night—"last night in Sweden...", while criticizing the asylum policies of several European countries.[47] After backlash from the press and the Swedish government,[48][49] Trump stated that he was referring to a Fox News program aired the previous day.[50][51]

By February 1, 2017, the campaign had already raised over $7 million.[52]

On February 24, Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference,[53] an annual event which has often held a presidential straw poll.[54] However the CPAC 2017 straw poll did not include a preference survey on presidential candidates.[55]

Trump laying a wreath at the tomb of Andrew Jackson at The Hermitage prior to his Nashville, Tennessee rally
Trump speaking at his rally in Nashville, Tennessee, March 15, 2017
Rally in Louisville, Kentucky, March 20, 2017

March 2017: Second and third rallies[edit | edit source]

On March 4, there were a series of local rallies held by allies of the campaign in some 50 cities.[56] Several of the rallies were met by counter-demonstrations[57] where some protesters were arrested.[58][59] Other events were held around the country throughout March, some of which resulted in violence.[60]

The campaign's second rally was held a month later in Nashville on March 15, and coincided with the 250th birthday of Andrew Jackson. Prior to the rally, Trump paid tribute to Jackson and laid a wreath at his tomb.[61][62][63][64] During the rally, Trump promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defended his revised travel ban, hours before it was put on hold by Derrick Watson, a federal judge in Hawaii.[65]

A third rally was held by the campaign in Louisville on March 20. At the rally, Trump promoted efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare").[66]

On March 29 it was reported that Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of the president, had been hired as a consultant by the campaign's digital vendor Giles-Parscale.[67]

April 2017: Fourth rally[edit | edit source]

By mid-April the Trump campaign had a staff of around twenty employees.[68]

Trump gave a speech on April 28 at an event for the National Rifle Association.[69][70]

File:President Trump stops by 193rd Special Operations Wing on way to rally 14 (cropped).jpg
Trump and Pence arrive in Pennsylvania on April 29 for their rally in Harrisburg.

Trump held his fourth campaign rally on April 29 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which coincided with the hundredth day of Trump's presidency.[71][72] It also took place the same night as the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which Trump did not attend.[72][73] In addition to Trump, Vice President Pence also spoke at the April 29 rally.

May 2017: Launch of first advertising campaign[edit | edit source]

On May 1 the campaign announced that they were spending $1.5 million on national advertisements touting Trump's accomplishments in the first hundred days."[74][75][76] The ad buy, which included advertisements targeted at voters who supported specific agenda items of Trump's presidency,[75] came approximately 42 months before election day 2020,[18][76][77] or any other major party's candidate declarations.[77][78] found several inaccuracies in the advertisement,[79] and Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune described the 30-second advertisement as being, "stuffed with Trump's signature misleading puffery".[78] Additionally, original versions of the ad showed Trump shaking hands with H. R. McMaster, an active-duty military member who was barred from participating in any political advocacy while in uniform.[80] Subsequent airings of the advertisement substituted this clip.[75][80]

The ad claimed that the "fake news" media refused to report the successes of the administration,[75][77][81][82] but Forbes pointed out that the ad itself cited mainstream media sources including CNBC, The Boston Globe and The New York Times.[81] Because of this accusation against the news media, CNN decided to stop running the ad, a decision that campaign manager Michael Glasner criticized as an action to "censor our free speech".[83][84][85] ABC, CBS and NBC later joined CNN in refusing to play the ad.[86] Lara Trump, a consultant to the campaign and the daughter-in-law of the president, called the ad removals "an unprecedented act of censorship in America that should concern every freedom-loving citizen."[82][86][87]

On May 8, shortly after reporter Cecilia Vega asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer about statements that Trump's 2016 campaign had issued in regards to temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States, Trump's campaign website purged itself of all campaign statements from the 2016 campaign.[88][89][90] Campaign chairman Michael Glassner later announced that the website was being redesigned. The redesign of Trump's campaign website was seen by media sources as laying the groundwork for a full-bodied reelection campaign.[91][92][93] The Washington Examiner's David Druckert pointed out on Twitter that the redesigned website featured an image of Trump with a uniformed military officer on its 'Donate' page, which violated the Department of Defense's regulation that prevented uniformed military officers from engaging in any political activity.[94]

On May 18, Trump hosted chairmen of the Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania state parties at the White House. Each of their states are considered to be presidential swing states.[95] On May 25, Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric along with Eric's wife Lara held a series of meetings at the Republican National Committee's (RNC) Washington, D.C. offices to outline campaign strategy.[96][97][98]

June 2017: Fifth rally, first fundraiser and visits to swing states[edit | edit source]

File:The People Pick Paris (34688912460).jpg
Counter-protesters at the Pittsburgh Not Paris Rally

On June 1, President Trump announced his plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement saying, "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris." Soon afterwards, the campaign announced it would hold a Pittsburgh Not Paris Rally across from the White House.[99][100] The rally was held June 3 at Lafayette Square.[99][101][102] The event was sponsored by the Fairfax County Republican Committee and the Republican Party of Virginia.[99][100][102][103][104][105] Relatively few people attended the event,[99][103] with estimates varying from 200 people (including counter-protesters)[103][105] to "dozens" of supporters.[103][104] By comparison, more people attended the anti-Trump March for Truth, which was held the same day.[106]

The president made June presidential visits to the swing-states of Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin, where he held speeches that were arranged so that he would be surrounded by crowds of his own supporters.[107]

Despite these trips, by the end of June Trump still lagged severely behind the number of states that his immediate two predecessors had visited during the first six months of their presidencies.[108] Both Obama and George W. Bush visited every time zone in the continental United States,[108] but Trump had visited only the Eastern and Central time zones.[108] Obama and Bush took both overnight and multiple-day trips throughout the country.[108] In contrast, Trump's domestic travels had largely been limited to a two-hour flight radius of Washington, D.C., and his only overnight stays were at Camp David, Mar-a-Lago and Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.[108] One of the benefits that Trump is speculated to obtain from such trips is more favorable coverage from local news outlets in the areas visited.[107] Most of Trump's trips to Wisconsin were focused on the Milwaukee area in the southeast part of the state, which Trump won in 2016 by a significantly smaller margin than Mitt Romney had in 2012.[107]

Trump also began campaigning in Iowa. Iowa is considered to be a perennial swing state.[109] The Iowa caucus is scheduled as the earliest presidential primary election.[110] Iowa has also been home to nonbinding straw polls held ahead of the primaries (Trump won the 2015 straw poll among Republican candidates).[111]

On June 7, President Trump delivered what the New York Daily News described as a “campaign-style speech” in Cincinnati, Ohio.[112] Five days later, reports surfaced that Trump was making plans to embark on a more expansive tour that would visit several battleground states.[113]

File:Trump waving (1).jpg
Trump in Iowa holding his fifth official rally of the campaign

Trump held his fifth official campaign rally in Cedar Rapids in eastern Iowa.[114][115] The area, home to a large population of working class whites, was seen as a strong region for Trump to find a base of political support.[107] The date for the rally, having been changed several times, was ultimately held on June 21,[116] marking the first time in his presidency that Trump traveled west of the Mississippi River.[108] At the rally, Iowa GOP state chairman Jeff Kaufmann verbally attacked Nebraskan Senator Ben Sasse, who has been speculated by some as a potential challenger to Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries.[117][118][119]

Vice President Mike Pence attended Joni Ernst's 3rd Annual Roast and Ride fundraiser, held on June 3 at the Central Iowa Expo near Boone, Iowa.[114][115][120][121] The previous editions of this event have included presidential campaign appearances. Trump himself had previously attended Ernst's fundraiser in 2016 while campaigning in Iowa, and seven Republican presidential contenders attended the event in 2015.[120]

On June 28, the president hosted a fundraiser at his company's hotel in Washington, D.C. benefitting the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee that raises funds for both his reelection campaign and the RNC.[122][123][124][125][126][127] The fundraiser was the first event that Trump hosted for the Trump Victory Committee since becoming president,[122] as well as the first presidential campaign fundraiser.[124] The event was co-organized by RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and RNC National Finance Chairman Steve Wynn.[123][127] The fundraiser was attended by about 300 guests and was reportedly expected to gross $10 million.[128][129][130][131] Trump was joined at the event by First Lady Melania Trump and top White House advisors.[132] Among those reported to have been in attendance at the fundraiser were Mica Mosbacher, Dean Heller and Katrina Pierson.[132][133] Additionally, Harold Hamm and a number of high-profile figures were spotted in the hotel's lobby during the event.[131] Press were barred from the event, a break of precedent since reporters were permitted to the first fundraisers held by both of Trump's two predecessors.[134] Additionally Trump's decision to host the event at a venue from which he personally profits garnered criticism.[124][128][135][136][137]

Lara Trump also made appearances on behalf of the campaign at events in New York and Texas during the month of June.[138] In New York, Lara spoke at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel on June 20 for the annual New York Republican State Committee gala.[139]

July 2017: Sixth rally[edit | edit source]

On July 1, Trump delivered a speech at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during an event honoring veterans. The event was sponsored by First Baptist Dallas and the Salem Media Group. The event was described as resembling one of Trump's campaign rallies.[140]

On July 6, The Hill and Newsweek reported that 2020 campaign merchandise bearing Trump's name (including merchandise supporting and opposing his candidacy) was selling more than those with the names of prospective opponents.[141][142]

First Daughter and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump introduced Vice President Mike Pence at a GOP fundraiser.[143]

In its July 15 financial disbursement filing, the campaign reported that on June 27, nearly two-weeks before news of the Trump campaign–Russian meeting first surfaced, having made a payment Alan Futerfas, who is now defending the president's son Donald Trump Jr. for his involvement in that meeting.[144][145][146][147]

On July 24, Trump gave a highly political address at the National Scout Jamboree, an event that is traditionally supposed to be a non-political event. This was emblematic of Trump's repeated tendency to treat events that are supposed to be strictly nonpolitical as though they are campaign rallies.[148]

Trump held his sixth campaign rally on July 25 at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio.[149][150] During the speech, Trump reveled in addressing an audience outside of the national capital.[150] He also condemned "predators and criminal aliens" and called them "animals". Chicago Tribune writer Rex W. Huppke criticized this comment, comparing it to the previous day's remarks at the National Scout Jamboree.[151] Trump also made remarks on the homicide rate in Chicago, and called on the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, to "get tough"; Emanuel responded the following day, stating: "It is not about being tough, it's about being smart and strategic."[152]

August 2017: Seventh and eighth rallies and second advertising campaign[edit | edit source]

Trump held his seventh campaign rally at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia on August 3.[22][153] During the rally, Trump attacked Democrats and criticized the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.[22][153] At the rally, West Virginia's Governor Jim Justice made the surprise announcement that he was changing his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.[22]

Vice President Mike Pence strongly denied charges lodged by an August 5 New York Times report, which speculated that the Vice President was orchestrating a "shadow campaign" for the presidency in the 2020 election.[154][155] Pence called the accusations "disgraceful and offensive" and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway called the story a "complete fiction, complete fabrication".[155][156][157][143]

On August 13, Trump's campaign released an advertisement entitled, Let President Trump Do His Job.[158] The ad attacks those that Trump alleges to be his "enemies", and was released one day prior to violent far-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.[159] The advertisement portrays Trump's enemies as being Democrats, the media and career politicians. The ad includes clips of various journalists, including several that work at CNN.[160] CNN refused to play the ad,[161] and campaign chairman Michael Glassner derided CNN's decision as “censorship".[160][162] In retaliation to CNN, the President retweeted a far-right activist's post featuring an image of a "Trump Train" running over CNN. The tweet, which was later deleted, received criticism after a vehicular attack in Charlottesville that injured and killed counter-protesters.[163][164]

Trump held his eighth campaign rally on August 22 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.[165][166] The rally was the campaign's first event in the Western United States.[167] Before attending the rally, Trump toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility.[168] In addition to the president, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson also spoke at the rally,[168] with Carson's appearance being criticized as possibly in violation of the Hatch Act of 1939 due to his status as current HUD secretary.[24][169][170] Phoenix's Mayor Greg Stanton had repeatedly asked that Trump postpone the event after the protests in Charlottesville.[171]

During the rally, Trump spent approximately fifteen minutes commenting on the events in Charlottesville and criticizing the media for supposedly mischaracterizing his words, while omitting previous statements about the rally's "many sides" of culpability (a move that was later criticized as misleading).[168][172][173][174] Trump also issued repeated attacks towards the media, accusing them of being "liars" and "sick people" responsible for creating "division" in the country.[175][176] He accused activists seeking the removal of Confederate monuments of “trying to take away our history"[174] and hinted at pardoning Joe Arpaio.[168][172] Trump also made verbal attacks on both of Arizona's US Senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain.[168][172][177] Additionally, Trump threatened to shut down the U.S. Federal Government if he was unable to secure funding to construct a border wall,[178][174][179][180] mentioned tensions with North Korea,[181] accused Democrats of being "obstructionists",[178] described his own restraint as being "very presidential",[182] and declared that "at some point” the United States would "end up probably terminating the North American Free Trade Agreement.[182]

After the rally, fact-checkers found numerous false statements in Trump's remarks.[183][184][185][186] Trump's speech was described as “angry”,[173] "incendiary",[174] “downright scary and disturbing”,[177][181][187] "continu[ing] to divide this country",[188] and "a total eclipse of the facts" (a reference to the previous day's solar eclipse).[189][190] A mostly well-behaved group of protesters gathered outside the rally,[168][191] but after Trump's speech, the police unleashed CS gas on and fired pepper-spray projectiles and rubber bullets at the protesters,[191][192] reportedly in response to a few protesters throwing rocks and bottles at police.[191][192] Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Summer Edition parodied the rally,[193][194][195] and the following week, Bloomberg News reported that Trump punished George Gigicos for the rally's small attendance.[196]

The day after his speech in Phoenix, Trump made his first presidential visit to Nevada (a swing state) for an American Legion event in Reno. Unlike during the previous night's rally, Trump did not attack Governor Brian Sandoval and Senator Dean Heller, two Republican politicians in attendance who have stood in opposition to some of the healthcare proposals championed by the president.[197]

An August 21 Politico report written by Alex Isenstadt entitled Trump ramping up for 2020 reelection offered new several revelations about the campaign effort.[166] The report discussed plans for an autumn campaign fundraising tour anticipated to rake-in tens of millions of dollars.[166] Pollster John McLaughlin, an advisor for Trump's 2016 campaign, was also appointed to advise Trump's 2020 efforts.[166] The Trump campaign supposedly discussed monitoring individuals listed as being potential 2020 Democratic candidates and Republican challengers,[166][198][199] and reportedly devised a plan to have White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon propose the idea of regulating Facebook as a public utility, a move meant to intimidate Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg into dropping rumored plans to run.[166] The report also said that the campaign and Trump's family members had been meeting monthly with the RNC to coordinate their election efforts, especially in North Carolina,[166] which Trump won by less than 4 percentage points in the 2016 election.[200] Finally, it was mentioned that a large part of the campaign's efforts thus far have involved an expansion of its data program being overseen by Brad Parscale.[166]

On his August 29 visit to Texas following Hurricane Harvey, the president made the unusual move of delivering an impromptu campaign-style speech.[201][202][203]

September 2017[edit | edit source]

On September 16, groups supporting Trump organized a rally on the National Mall named the Mother of All Rallies.[204][205][206][207] Organizers were originally hoping to draw one million attendees. However, in planning for security, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia expected that only 1,800 people would attend and, ultimately, only about one thousand people attended.[207][206] A nearby Juggalo rally drew greater crowds than the pro-Trump rally did.[206][208]

A national organization had originally been planning to hold "We Support Trump" rallies across the nation on September 9, however subsequently reneged on those plans.[209] However, an independent rally in support of Trump was subsequently announced to be held on that date in Georgetown, Delaware, in a county where Trump got a majority of the vote in 2016.[209] The Georgetown rally was sponsored by the Sussex County Republican Committee and attended by 100 people.[210][211]

On September 26, Trump also attended a campaign fundraising dinner hosted by the Republican National Committee (RNC) in New York City. The event was reported to have raised nearly $5 million, with major donors spending up to $250,000 to dine with President Trump.[212] Since Trump scheduled for a quick meeting with Nikki Haley and other U.N. officials immediately prior the fundraiser, he was able to file the travel expenses related to that visit to New York as "government business", thus making them the expense of the American taxpayer, and not his campaign.[212] Trump's pattern of mixing travel for fundraising activities with travel for government business has drawn criticism from government watchdog organizations.[212]

Trump had been scheduled to headline a fundraiser in Dallas on September 27, which was canceled by its organizers in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.[213]

October 2017[edit | edit source]

On October 16, Trump indicated his desire to see his 2016 general election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, run again in 2020. This declaration came in a tweet, and despite Clinton's repeated assertions that she has no desire to again run for public office.[214]

On October 25, the president traveled to Texas for a fundraiser hosted by the Dallas County Republican Party for both the RNC and his reelection campaign.[213][212][215] The event was closed to the media. Mark Knoller noted, "By my count, this will be Pres Trump's 10th political fundraiser since taking office. 9 of 10 were closed to press coverage including today."[216]

November 2017[edit | edit source]

In early November, ethics watchdogs and political analysts expressed concerns over Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump assuming a greater role in the White House, while also continuing to be an active member of Trump's reelection campaign.[217]

Lara Trump, while working for the reelection campaign, has quietly held political meetings with government officials such as Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Veteran Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe and Representative Ron DeSantis.[217]

David Gergen, who had served in the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, commented "I cannot remember something like that ever happening in my time...This White House is being run like a family business, and campaigning is their bread and butter."[217]

December 2017[edit | edit source]

In December 2017, polls showed that more than 40 percent of Americans wanted Trump impeached, a number higher than the percentage of Americans who said they planned to vote to reelect the president in the 2020 election.[218]

President Trump also held a rally in Pensacola, Florida, to campaign for Alabama U.S. Senate Candidate Roy Moore.

2018 campaign developments[edit | edit source]

February 2018[edit | edit source]

In February 2018, the Trump campaign sent out an email with a photo of Trump paying a hospital visit to a student survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. After stating that Trump prioritises the safety of American students and schools, the email linked to the campaign's donations page.[219]

File:Brad Parscale by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Brad Parscale was chosen as Trump's 2020 campaign manager in February 2018.

On February 25, the Drudge Report announced that the president had chosen Brad Parscale as the campaign manager for his re-election campaign.[220] Parscale was the digital strategist for the previous campaign as the head of Giles-Parscale, which raised some concerns about how the campaign would conduct its advertising.[221]

March 2018[edit | edit source]

On March 10, Trump held a rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. He campaigned for Rick Saccone for the local special election and also declared that his 2020 campaign slogan would be "Keep America Great!".[222]

On March 13, Trump made his first trip to the state of California as president to attend a campaign fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Ed Glazer.[223] The same day, it was announced that Katrina Pierson and John McEntee had been hired by the campaign as senior advisors.[224][225]

April 2018[edit | edit source]

In 2018, Trump skipped the White House Correspondent's Dinner, holding a rally on the same night (as he had the previous year), this time in Washington, Michigan.[226]

May 2018[edit | edit source]

In May, Trump held a rally in Indiana where he once again shared that his 2020 campaign slogan would be "Keep America Great!". Despite the fact that he had already revealed this before, Trump told the supporters at his rally,

'Keep America Great!' Because we are doing so well that in another two years when we start the heavy campaign, 'Make America Great Again' wouldn't work out too well. It's going to be 'Keep America Great' because that's exactly where we are headed. But don't tell anybody. I don't want anybody to know.[227]

June 2018[edit | edit source]

On June 20, President Trump held a rally in Duluth, Minnesota supporting Republican Congressional candidate Pete Stauber in the 2018 midterm elections[228] and addressing his own 2020 prospects in the state[229] among other subjects. The rally came on the day the president had signed an Executive Order on the treatment of immigrant families with children.[228] At the rally he said enforcement at the border would be “just as tough" under the Executive Order.[229]

Trump traveled to the Nevada Republican Convention in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 23, and also appeared on the trip at a fundraiser for U.S. Senator Dean Heller. Along with policy issues Trump addressed Heller's challenger, U.S. Representative Jacky Rosen, as "Wacky Jacky". The president continued, asking of the simultaneous Nevada Democratic Party convention in Reno featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, "Wacky Jacky is campaigning with Pocahontas, can you believe it?"[230]

On June 27, the president held a rally in Fargo, North Dakota, supporting Representative Kevin Cramer in his challenge to sitting Senator Heidi Heitkamp. President Trump also addressed, at the rally, the just-announced news of the retirement from the Supreme Court of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Cramer addressed the issue of abortion and Heitkamp's position on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act as his reason for entering the race. "'On behalf of the most forgotten people,' Mr. Cramer said to the president as both men took the stage to deafening applause, 'the unborn babies, thank you for standing for life.'"[231]

October 2018[edit | edit source]

During a campaign rally in Houston on October 22, Trump defined himself as a nationalist. He acknowledged the controversial use of this word, stating: "We’re not supposed to use that word, […] but I’m very proud. I think it should be brought back."[232][233]

November 2018[edit | edit source]

The campaign finances a number of rallies,[234] in support of Republican candidates in the Midterm election. These are somewhat successful, as the Senate's Republican majority is slightly increased.[235] However, the Republicans lost their majority with 40 seats in the House of Representatives.

December 2018[edit | edit source]

The campaign makes the unprecedentedly early move to merge the campaign's field operations with that of the Republican National Committee.[236] The campaign tapped White House political director Bill Stepien and Director of Public Liaison Justin Clark as Senior Political Advisors, who would focus on delegate organization and to ensure that the 2020 Republican National Convention runs smoothly.[237]

2019 campaign developments[edit | edit source]

January 2019[edit | edit source]

In a unanimous vote, the Republican National Committee informally endorsed the President's campaign, and coordination between the two entities formally began.[238]

February–March 2019[edit | edit source]

In February, a state-by-state effort was launched by Trump's campaign team to oppose any presidential challenges from within the Republican Party. The campaign has used endorsements, lobbying and state-party rule changes to ensure that Trump does not face opposition during the Republican nominating convention, with a senior campaign adviser calling it a “process of ensuring that the national convention is a television commercial for the president for an audience of 300 million and not an internal fight.”.[239][240]

The El Paso rally[edit | edit source]

The first rally of the year took place at the El Paso County Coliseum, in El Paso, Texas on February 12. It was highlighted by pro-wall talking points and a BBC cameraman filming the event, getting into a scuffle with a supporter that the President disavowed.[241]

CPAC[edit | edit source]

From February 28 to March 3, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC took place in National Harbor, Maryland. This year, the usual straw poll was not held, and on the last day, Trump made a two-and-a-half hour long speech,[242] which was covered live by C-span and Fox News, and was prominently featured in media throughout the world.

The "Barr letter"[edit | edit source]

On March 24, Attorney General William Barr sent a four-page long letter to Congress summarizing the findings of the Mueller Report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Both Trump and the campaign claimed complete exoneration, even though Barr stated that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him".

Grand Rapids[edit | edit source]

On March 28, the President held a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, during which he revelled in his alleged "exoneration" calling for Democrats to apologize for the Russia investigation and to stop the "ridiculous bullshit." [243]

Trump also attacked Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as "little pencil-neck...who has the smallest, thinnest neck I've ever seen," and someone who is "not a long-ball hitter." The President then ticked through those he felt wronged him as the crowd chanted, “Lock them up!!! Lock them up!!!!”[244]

April 2019[edit | edit source]

Trump visited the border at Calexico, California[245] before attending campaign events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas[246][247]

June 2019[edit | edit source]

The New York Times reported in June 2019 that after Trump had been briefed on internal polling showing he was trailing Joe Biden in several key states, he instructed aides to deny it and to publicly state that other data showed him doing well. The next day, Trump tweeted, “The Fake (Corrupt) News Media said they had a leak into polling done by my campaign...They reported Fake numbers that they made up & don’t even exist," later telling reporters, "we are winning in every single state that we polled." Public polls at the time showed Trump trailing in key states such as Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania.[248][249][250] Days later, the Trump campaign severed ties with some of its internal pollsters.[251] Trump also said that "something weird" is happening at Fox News after their poll also showed him losing to several Democratic candidates.[252]

On June 12, 2019, during an interview with ABC News, Trump said that were a foreign country to offer damaging information on a political opponent, his reaction would be: "I think I'd want to hear it ... There's nothing wrong with listening." Trump also said that the "FBI director is wrong" about the need to inform the FBI about a foreign government attempting to influence an election.[253][254][255] Trump initially claimed his comments were mischaracterised, prompting ABC News to release a transcript.[255] On June 13, Federal Election Commission chairwoman Ellen Weintraub stated: "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election".[256] On June 14, Trump told Fox News: "If I don't hear what it is, you're not going to know what is ... Now, if I thought anything was incorrect or badly stated, I'd report it to the Attorney General, the FBI."[255]

A joint report published in June 2019 by the Center for Public Integrity, NBC News and CNBC detailed that the 2016 and 2020 Trump campaigns have yet to pay bills totaling over $800,000 to 10 city governments for costs incurred to ensure public safety with regard to Trump campaign rallies. The rallies took place from January 2016 to August 2016 in Burlington, Vermont, Tucson, Arizona, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Spokane, Washington, Green Bay, Wisconsin and from September 2018 to February 2019 in Billings, Montana, Erie, Pennsylvania, Lebanon, Ohio, Mesa, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas.[257]

On June 18, 2019, Trump officially launched his re-election campaign at a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.[258]

On June 21, 2019, writer E. Jean Carroll alleged via New York magazine that Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in 1995 or 1996. Two friends of Carroll confirmed to New York that Carroll had previously confided in them regarding the incident. Trump denied ever meeting Carroll, although New York had published a photo of Trump and Carroll together in 1987. As of July 2019, the majority of news outlets have dropped the story due in large part to the incredulity of the accuser.[259][260][261]

Finances[edit | edit source]

While Donald Trump donated and loaned funds to his previous campaign during the Republican primaries, thus-far he has not donated any of his own money to his reelection campaign. Instead, his reelection campaign has solely solicited donations.[262]

Trump began fundraising for his reelection campaign immediately upon being inaugurated, years earlier into his presidency than his predecessors had.[148]

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. quarterly financial summaries
Quarter Cash on hand
at beginning
Receipts Disbursements Cash on hand
at end
Debts owed
to campaign
Debts owed
by campaign
2017 Q1[263] 7,611,702.92 7,120,150.93 6,370,250.57 8,361,603.28 0.00 0.00
2017 Q2[264] 8,361,603.28 7,954,888.84 4,369,374.54 11,947,117.58 0.00 0.00
2017 Q3[265] 11,947,117.58 10,129,336.13 4,071,599.06 18,004,854.65 0.00 0.00
2017 Q4[266] 18,004,854.65 6,895,755.62 2,791,451.84 22,109,158.43 0.00 0.00
2018 Q1[267] 22,109,158.43 10,106,775.80 3,876,088.55 28,339,845.68 0.00 0.00
2018 Q2[268] 28,339,845.68 8,368,358.11 3,621,333.93 33,086,869.86 0.00 0.00
2018 Q3[269] 33,086,869.86 10,026,045.24 7,705,411.15 35,407,503.95 0.00 0.00
2018 Q4[270] 35,407,503.95 6,946,974.43 23,061,577.18 19,292,901.20 0.00 1,035,597.65
Total 2017–2018[271] 7,611,702.92 67,548,285.10 55,867,086.82 19,292,901.20 0.00 1,035,597.65
2019 Q1[272] 19,292,901.20 30,304,180.03 8,834,888.53 40,762,192.70 0.00 528,116.26

Funding pace[edit | edit source]

File:JFC45 stacked logo RGB@2x.png
Logo of the Trump Make America Great Again Committee

At the end of the first quarter of 2017, the campaign's three committees ("Donald J. Trump for President", "Trump Victory", and "Trump Make America Great Again Committee") reported raising a combined $13.2 million, the majority of which had come from small donors.[68]

Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) ultimately raised a combined $55 million in the first quarter. According to the National Review's Kelly Jane Torrance, Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee had raised roughly $16 million in the same period of Obama's first term.[7]

On March 17, 2017 the campaign saw what was its highest single-day contribution total, with the campaign and its joint-fundraising-committee raising a combined total of $314,000.[273][274] By the end of May the RNC had raised more than $62 million in 2017. The RNC had already received more online donations than they had in the entire year of 2016.[132]

On April 14, 2019 the campaign announced that it had raised $30 million in the first quarter of 2019, far outpacing the campaigns of his individual Democratic opponents in the same period. Average donations were $34.26, and nearly 99 percent of donations to the campaign were $200 or less. In addition, the Republican National Committee brought in $45.8 million in first quarter 2019.[275]

Notable expenditures[edit | edit source]

In April 2017, The Wall Street Journal determined that the Trump campaign had reported spending nearly $500,000 in payments to companies owned by Trump, amounting to more than 6% of the $6.3 million that the campaign reported spending.[276] Additionally, the campaign spent more than $4 million on memorabilia (such as hats).[7]

In the third quarter of 2017, the Trump campaign spent $4.1 million (27% of its expenditures) on legal fees, including the personal legal expenses of Trump and his family.[277][278] By this point, 10% of the campaign's overall spending since the beginning of the year had been on legal fees.[278]

As of March 2019, Trump's campaign had spent almost twice as much on Facebook and Google ads as the entire Democratic field combined.[279]

In its first two years since it was launched in January 2017, the Trump 2020 campaign paid more than $890,000 in rent for space in Trump Tower,[280][281] and the Republican National Committee paid $225,000.[281]

In 2019, the president's Fourth of July celebration spent more of taxpayers' money than is customary and was reported by The Washington Post to had been trolled by Russian media.[282][283]

Groups supporting Trump[edit | edit source]

The Republican Party[edit | edit source]

On January 23, 2019, The Republican National Committee, in a unanimous vote, informally endorsed the president,[238] and began an effort to prevent a challenge to him by changing the "rules of the game."[239]

Super PACs[edit | edit source]

Super PACs supporting Trump's reelection campaign include Committee to Defend the President,[3] Great America PAC,[3] and Great America Committee.[284][285]

The Great America PAC received donations from, among others, former racer Walker Evans[286] and Insperity executive Jay Mincks.[287]

The Committee to Defend the President super PAC received contributions from, among others, Enterprise Products executive Ralph S. Cunningham.[288]

The Center for Public Integrity published an analysis of 2017 first-quarter federal campaign spending records which revealed that two Super PACs supporting Trump, Great America PAC and Committee to Defend the President, had spent a combined $1.32 million on the 2020 election campaign.[3] Ted Harvey serves as the chairman of the Committee to Defend the President. Eric Beach and Ed Rollins serve as co-chairmen of Great America PAC.[3] Both PACs have previously been accused by the FEC of poorly maintaining financial records, and had been threatened with penalties.[3] The Center for Public Integrity also found that several other pro-Trump PACs had already been founded in 2017, but most of them had yet to be very active. One such PAC was America First Action, which was founded by the CEO of a political consulting firm for which Trump's 2020 campaign treasurer is the senior vice president.[3]

On May 17, 2017, Mike Pence filed FEC paperwork to form Great America Committee, a PAC that would be headed by his former campaign staffers Nick Ayers and Marty Obst.[284][285] This is the first time in US history that a sitting vice president has founded such a political organization.[284]

On August 7, Marc Lotter, a spokesperson for Mike Pence, confirmed to MSNBC's Hallie Jackson that the Vice President had hosted Republican donors, including mega-donors Charles and David Koch, at Number One Observatory Circle.[143]

At the end of the third quarter, the FEC calculated that in 2017 super PACS and other outside groups supporting Trump had spent more than $2 million.[289]

Amount spend by outside groups in support of campaign[edit | edit source]

Table displays the amount that groups have reported to the FEC they have spent in support of Trump's candidacy (As of May 2018)[290]

Group Amount
Great America PAC 3,152,243.73
The Committee to Defend the President 3,034,640.87
Other 34,558.29
Total 6,221,442.89

Other groups[edit | edit source]

In late January 2017 several members of Trump's 2016 campaign staff formed America First Policies, a pro-Trump political nonprofit. Those involved included former deputy campaign chairs Rick Gates and David Bossie. Brad Parscale[291] and Katrina Pierson were also involved. Additionally involved were Nick Ayers and Marty Obst, both of whom served as advisors to Mike Pence during the 2016 campaign.[292] Trump's former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh has also joined the organization.[96] Near the end of May, members of the organization (including Walsh) participated in meetings at the RNC's D.C. offices with members Trump's family to discuss campaign strategy.[96][97][98]

In 2017, Matt Braynard, a key member of Trump's 2016 campaign staff, established the organization Look Ahead America.[293] The organization has taken steps to target inactive voters in places such as New Hampshire.[293] Trump came close to winning New Hampshire in the 2016 election.[293] Look Ahead America has claimed that it will not be coordinating their efforts with the president.[293]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Bender, Michael C. (February 19, 2019). "Trump adds senior campaign staff for 2020 race as risk of a GOP primary challenger rises". MarketWatch. Retrieved March 6, 2019. 
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