Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2020

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Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2020
Campaign United States presidential election, 2020
Candidate Donald Trump
President of the United States

Mike Pence
Vice President of the United States
Affiliation Republican Party
Status Announced: February 17, 2017
Headquarters Trump Tower
Manhattan, New York City, New York
Key people Michael Glassner (campaign committee manager)[1]
John Pence (campaign committee deputy executive director)[1]
Bradley Crate (campaign treasurer)[2]
Receipts US$11,947,118[3]
Slogan Keep America Great[4][5]
Promises made, promises kept[6]

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

Trump began his campaign unusually early for an incumbent President of the United States. He began spending for his reelection effort within weeks of his election, and officially filed his campaign with the Federal Elections Commission on the day of his inauguration. Since February, Trump has held several rallies and a fundraiser for this campaign. He has visited key electoral states. The campaign has fundraised and run two nationwide advertising campaigns.



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. Trump’s campaign committee continued raising funds. In December 2016, the campaign raised $11 million.[7] These moves indicated that Trump was already eying a 2020 run.[8]

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.[9]

Trump officially filed his reelection campaign with the FEC on January 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration.[10][11][12][13] 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.[14][15] Trump filed the papers for his reelection campaign approximately 47 months prior to the date of the election.[14] 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.[14]

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.[15][16] 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.[17] Trump's February rally in Melbourne, Florida was the earliest campaign rally for an incumbent president.[18][19]

By filing for his campaign as early as he did, Trump gave also himself a head start on fundraising. This can theoretically help him to scare away primary challengers.[19]

Trump will be 74 years old by election day 2020.[20][21][22] 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.[23][24][25]

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.[26][27] 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).[a]

Permanent campaign

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.[18][28]

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.[29]

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.[29] Political observers consider the rise in presidential fundraising as a symptom of the permanent campaign.[29]

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.[29][28] 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.[28] 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.[28] 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.[28]

Domestic trips made by Donald Trump in 2017

The following map reflects the number of trips Trump has conducted to each state (or territory) thus far in the year 2017

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

Early campaign developments

January 2017: Launch of campaign

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.[8] By that time his campaign offices at Trump Tower already included a staff of about ten people led by Republican strategist Michael Glassner.[8][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 re-election campaign.[8][30]

On January 18, Trump revealed in an interview with The Washington Post that he had decided on Keep America Great as his 2020 campaign slogan.[4][31][32] 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.[10][12][13]

February 2017: First rally

Trump speaking at his first campaign rally in Florida

First rally (Melbourne, Florida)

The first rally paid for by the campaign was held on February 18, 2017, in Melbourne, Florida,[33] and was attended by an estimated 9,000 supporters.[34] This was the earliest an incumbent president had ever held a campaign rally.[18]

Speaking at the rally, Trump defended his actions and criticized the media.[18] He referred to "what's happening last night in Sweden" while criticizing the asylum policies of several European countries, though no incident had occurred the night before.[35] He was lambasted by the press and the Swedish government.[36][37] Reacting to the backlash, Trump later stated that he was referring to a Fox News program aired the previous day,[38] including an interview with Ami Horowitz on Tucker Carlson Tonight.[39] Several days after Trump's explanatory tweet, the website of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs published a page disputing claims Horowitz made in that interview, as well as related claims about migration and crime in Sweden.[37]

Other developments

By February 1, 2017, the campaign had already raised over $7 million.[40]

Trump at CPAC 2017

On February 24, Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference,[41] an annual event which has often held a presidential straw poll.[42] However the CPAC 2017 straw poll did not include a preference survey on presidential candidates.[43]

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

March 2017: Second and third rallies (Nashville and Louisville)

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.[44][45][46][47] Trump was the first sitting president to visit Jackson's tomb since Ronald Reagan, who had done so on March 15, 1982[46][47] when he participated in commemorating Jackson's 215th birthday before addressing a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly.[45] 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.[48]

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").[49] Trump made no reference to James Comey's testimony before Congress earlier that day, where Comey denied having any proof backing up Trump's wiretapping allegations.[50][51]

Affiliated rallies

Trump waves to supporters in West Palm Beach on March 4

On March 4, there were a series of rallies held by allies of the campaign in some 50 cities (including Nashville, Phoenix, Boston, Denver, Miami, St. Paul, and Berkley).[52] In several cities, they were met by counter-demonstrations[53] where some protesters were arrested.[54][55]

Other events were held around the country throughout March, some of which resulted in violence.[56]

Other developments

The president's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, began working as a consultant to the campaign's digital vendor

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.[57]

In March, a Trump supporter named Dion Cini began sculling in the Hudson River in a one-man racing vessel bearing a flag reading, 'Trump 2020' as a show of support for Trump's reelection. In July, Cini told The New Yorker that done this every weekday since March, and was quoted as saying, "I’ll be out doing it until the 2020 election. The only thing that might change—and I doubt this will happen—but, if they do actually indict Trump and kick him out of office, I’ll just change it to a Pence flag and keep going.”[58]

April 2017: Fourth rally and the end of Trump's first hundred days

By mid-April the Trump campaign had a staff of around twenty employees.[59]

Speech to the National Rifle Association

While attending an April 28 event for the National Rifle Association, Trump commented on the 2020 race. He received some criticism for using language that many outlets deemed to be pejorative towards Native Americans. Trump derogatorily referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren, a speculated potential candidate for the Democratic nomination, by the Native American epithet "Pocahontas", a reference to her unproven claims of Native American heritage. He had previously used this as a derisive nickname for Warren during his 2016 campaign. Trump said:

I have a feeling that in the next election you're going to be swamped with candidates, but you're not going to be wasting your time. You'll have plenty of those Democrats coming over, and you're going to say, "No, sir—no, thank you. No, ma'am." Perhaps "ma'am." It may be Pocahontas, remember that. And she is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you. But you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.[60][61][62][63]

Harrisburg rally (100th day in office)

Trump and Pence arrive in Pennsylvania on April 29 for their rally in Harrisburgh

Trump held his fourth campaign rally on April 29 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. The rally coincided with the hundredth day of Trump's presidency.[64][65] It also took place the same night as the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which Trump did not attend (marking the first time that a president skipped the dinner since Ronald Reagan was recovering from a gunshot injury in 1981).[65][66] Trump made several references to the Correspondents' Dinner, which was being held at the same time as the rally.[67] He also remarked, "Let's rate the media's 100 days ... because as you know, they are a disgrace."[67]

In addition to Trump, Vice President Pence also spoke at the April 29 rally. Pence declared, "Our new president is doing exactly what he said he would do." Pence also boasted that the president had signed more executive orders during his first hundred days than any president had done in 50 years.[67] Trump had previously criticized his predecessor Barack Obama's use of executive orders.[68]

Upon seeing a protester at the rally, Trump exclaimed, "Get him out of here." After this, members of the Trump-supporting group Bikers for Trump accosted and jostled several individuals at the rally. Politico speculated that this instance might play against Trump in ongoing litigation accusing him of inciting violence at his 2016 campaign rallies.[69]

In addition to holding a rally, Trump wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post detailing what he believed were the accomplishments of his first hundred days.[70][71][13]

May 2017: Launch of first advertising campaign

First campaign ad: First 100 Days

On May 1 the campaign announced that they were spending $1.5 million on national advertisements. According to a campaign statement, these ads would tout the accomplishments of first hundred days as demonstrating Trump's "clear vision, resolute leadership, and an uncompromising dedication to the American people."[70][72][73] The ad buy included digital targeted advertisements meant to appeal to voters that supported specific agenda items of Trump's presidency.[72] This ad buy came 1,282 days (approximately 42 months) before election day 2020,[13][73][74] and before any other major candidates had officially declared their candidacy for the nominations of either party.[74][75]

The campaign's first television advertisement (which hit the airwaves the same day that the ad buy was announced)[73][75] was titled "First 100 Days".[72] found several inaccuracies in the advertisement, including an inflation of job-growth numbers.[76] Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune described the 30-second advertisement as being, "stuffed with Trump's signature misleading puffery".[75]

The ad originally contained a clip of Trump shaking hands with a uniformed H. R. McMaster. McMaster, who is an active-duty member of the military, is barred from participating in any political advocacy whilst in-uniform according to Defense Department policy.[77] After Federal Election Commission general counsel Larry Noble wrote on Twitter that the ad "seems to violate intent of military policy," subsequent airings of the advertisement substituted this clip.[72][77]

The ad claimed that the "fake news" media refused to report the successes of the administration.[72][74][78][79] Forbes pointed out, however, that the ad itself cited mainstream media sources (including CNBC, The Boston Globe and The New York Times) to support its claims.[78]

Because of this accusation against the news media, CNN decided to stop running the ad, stating on May 2:

CNN requested that the advertiser remove the false graphic that says the mainstream media is "fake news." The mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false. Per our policy, it will be accepted only if that graphic is deleted. Those are the facts.[80][81][82]

Campaign manager Michael Glasner criticized this, saying:

It is absolutely shameful to see the media blocking the positive message that President Trump is trying to share with the country. It's clear that CNN is trying to silence our voice and censor our free speech because it doesn't fit their narrative.[80][81][82]

ABC, CBS and NBC later joined CNN in refusing to play the ad. ABC commented, "We rejected the ad because it did not meet our guidelines. We have previously accepted Trump ads and are open to doing so in the future."[83] NBC said, "Consistent with our policies, we have agreed to accept the ad if the inaccurate graphic—which refers to journalists as 'fake news'—is corrected.”[83]

Lara Trump, a consultant to the campaign and the daughter-in-law of the president, criticized this, saying:

Apparently, the mainstream media are champions of the First Amendment only when it serves their own political views. Faced with an ad that doesn’t fit their biased narrative, CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC have now all chosen to block our ad. This is an unprecedented act of censorship in America that should concern every freedom-loving citizen."[79][83][84]

Changes to campaign website

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.[85][86][87]

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.[88][89][90] Glassner stated, "the new website will present fact-based information about the president's policy positions and achievements since he took office." Campaign officials stated that the redesigned website would, "provide a one-stop online destination to learn the facts about President Trump's actions that are enabling new economic growth and changing the American political landscape."[91] Glassner additionally stated that the website would provide supporters with a "picture window" behind-the-scenes of Trump campaign events,[88] and would allow the president to communicate more directly with his supporters.[92]

A number of issues arose with the revamping of the campaign's website. After the deletion of press releases, a vulnerability in the website was exploited so that the URL (my plan to fuck the poor) led to a page about Trump's healthcare plan.[93][94] It was also pointed-out that the campaign's redesigned homepage originally featured a typo.[95][89] 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. This, as was the case with the inclusion of McMaster in the campaign's first television advertisement, is against military regulations which strictly prohibit uniformed military officers from engaging in any political activity.[96]

Other developments

In early May Trump sent a letter thanking Paul Bielfeldt, a man who had mowed the message USA #1 2020 Trump Pence across 320 acres (1.3 km2) of farmland in Anchor, Illinois. The message is speculated to have set a world record for the largest campaign sign.[97]

On May 18 Trump hosted chairmen of the for 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.[98]

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. The trio spoke with RNC leadership (including chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and chief of staff Sara Armstrong), White House staffers, Trump campaign leaders such as Michael Glassner and digital vendor Brad Parscale, and members of the America First Policies political group (including Katie Walsh).[99][100][101]

June 2017: Fifth rally, first fundraiser and visits to swing states

Pittsburgh Not Paris Rally

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.[102][103] The rally was held June 3 at Lafayette Square.[102][104][105] The event was sponsored by the Fairfax County Republican Committee and the Republican Party of Virginia.[102][103][105][106][107][108] Relatively few people attended the event.[102][106] BuzzFeed and ABC both estimated that there were only 200 people (including counter-protesters) at the rally.[106][108] Buzzfeed as well as Business Insider described the number of supporters at the event as, "dozens".[106][107] This contrasted with the attendance of the anti-Trump March for Truth, which was held the same day and attracted crowds to demonstrations across the nation.[109]

Presidential visits to battleground states

In June the president made 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.[110]

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.[111] Both Obama and George W. Bush visited every time zone in the continental United States.[111] Trump, however visited only the Eastern and Central time zones.[111] Obama and Bush took both overnight and multiple-day trips throughout the country.[111] 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.[111]

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.[110]

Barry Bennett, who had served as an advisor to Trump's 2016 campaign, commented on this, saying,

“I think it’s a good strategy because it drags reporters with him, and the one thing the Washington press corps still hasn’t gotten is why people in Youngstown — or pick your favorite city in the Midwest — still like him....I hope that gets him into friendly audiences, but I also hope when he gets out there he talks about jobs, jobs, jobs and not anything else, because all of his power is going to be derived by the rising economy.”[110]

Rick Wilson commented that these trips had the appearance of some sort of, “nostalgia tour” for Trump, bringing him back to the experience he enjoyed when campaigning for the 2016 election of holding rallies before adulating crowds of supporters.[110]. Wilson also said,

“A lot of these spaces are safe places for Trump....He loves rallies, he likes big, cheering crowds. These are things that make him feel everything is under control and everything is going to be okay.”[110]

Wisconsin-based Republican consultant Brian Fraley commented,

“From a strategic standpoint, it makes sense for Trump to do more events like these, even if it doesn’t move the needle on the public policy debates nationally......Midwesterners of every political persuasion like it when we’re not treated merely as flyover country......When he gets out of the Beltway bubble, he can control the narrative. He’d much rather talk infrastructure, apprenticeships and jobs than special counsels and congressional inquiries."[110]

It has been noted that Trump's trips to Wisconsin were focused on the Milwaukee area. While Trump carried Southeast Wisconsin (where Milwaukee is located) in 2016, he received a significantly lower margin of the vote than Mitt Romney had in 2012. Thus, Marquette Law School pollster and governmental scholar Charles Franklin remarked that Trump was, “coming to the area of the state where he most needs to build up good will among Republican voters,” in order to secure a 2020 victory in the state.[110]

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]

Campaigning in Iowa (fifth rally)

In June, Trump began campaigning in Iowa. Iowa is considered to be a perennial swing state.[114] The Iowa caucus is scheduled as the earliest presidential primary election.[115] Iowa has also been home to nonbinding straw polls held ahead of the primaries (Trump won the 2015 straw poll among Republican candidates).[116]

Trump in Iowa holding his fifth official rally of the campaign

Trump held his fifth official campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.[117][118] Cedar Rapids is in eastern Iowa, home to a large population of working class whites. It is, therefore, seen as a strong region for Trump to find a base of political support.[110] Trump had been scheduled to hold the rally on June 1, but it was postponed because of "an unforeseen change in President Trump's schedule."[117][118][119][120] Eric Branstad, a Trump administration official, said that the rally would be moved to mid-June.[117] Brandstad also said that the rally would coincide with a send-off for his father, Terry Branstad, who would be leaving to serve as Ambassador to China.[117] The rally was ultimately held on June 21.[121] The rally marked the first time in his presidency that Trump traveled west of the Mississippi River.[111]

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.[122][123][124]

Trump posted a video on Facebook following his Cedar Rapids rally that misspelled the word miners as minors

After the rally, Trump uploaded a video to his Facebook page with the assertion that Trump was, "putting our minors [sic] back to work", misspelling the word miners.[125]

Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Iowa to attend Joni Ernst's 3rd Annual Roast and Ride fundraiser, held on June 3 at the Central Iowa Expo (near Boone, Iowa).[117][118][126][127] 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. In 2015 seven Republican presidential contenders attended the event.[126]

Washington, D.C. fundraiser

The campaign held its first fundraiser at Trump's own hotel in Washington, D.C.

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.[128][129][130][131][132][133]

The fundraiser was the first event that Trump hosted for the Trump Victory Committee since becoming president,[128] as well as the first presidential campaign fundraiser.[130] The fundraiser came two-and-a-half years earlier into Trump’s term than the first fundraisers held by the reelection campaigns for both of his two immediate predecessors.[134]

The event was co-organized by RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and RNC National Finance Chairman Steve Wynn.[129][133] Guests were asked to give $35,000 per-person, while host-committee members were asked to give $100,000 per-person.[128][129][130][133][135] The fundraiser was attended by about 300 guests and was reportedly expected to gross $10 million.[135][136][137][138]

The event informed its attendees that the money raised would be distributed as follows,

Contributions from individuals (multicandidate PACs in parentheses) will be allocated sequentially according to the following formula: $2,700 ($5,000) to DJTP primary account; $2,700 ($5,000) to DJTP general account; $33,900 ($15,000) to the RNC's Operating account; $101,700 ($45,000) to the RNC's Headquarters account; $101,700 ($45,000) to the RNC's Convention account; and the remainder, up to $101,700 ($45,000), to the RNC's Legal Proceedings account.[133]

Trump was joined at the event by First Lady Melania Trump and top White House advisors.[139] Among those reported to have been in attendance at the fundraiser were Mica Mosbacher, Dean Heller and Katrina Pierson.[139][140] Additionally, Harold Hamm and a number of high-profile figures were spotted in the hotel's lobby during the event.[138]

The event was originally to be closed to the press. However, the day of the event it was announced that the presidential press pool would, in fact, be allowed to cover the event. This decision was reversed after only two hours, with the press being barred from the event.[134] This breaks precedent.[134] Reporters were permitted to the first fundraisers held by both of Trump's two predecessors.[134] In addition, while Obama would occasionally hold closed-door fundraisers, he never barred the press from fundraisers at which he was to deliver formal remarks.[134]

Trump's decision to host the event at a venue from which he personally profits garnered criticism.[130][135][141][142][143] Among those to criticize the choice of venue was the New York Times editorial board, which wrote that the rally,

"may have been a first in recent presidential history: an event that lined a chief executive’s campaign coffers and his pockets at the same time.......the $35,000-per-person event also suggested that Mr. Trump plans to run his second campaign much like his first, as an opportunity to not only further his political ambitions, but also to make a bit on the side."[143]

The Trump campaign held a raffle for someone to be a guest at the rally and have their picture taken with the president.[144][145] While similar raffles have been held in the past by other presidential candidates, such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the Trump campaign has taken the unusual move of not publicly disclosing who the winner was.[144]

Other developments
Campaign supporter in June 2017

On June 5, the campaign sent its supporters an email taking aim at former Vice President Joe Biden, a speculated potential candidate for the Democratic nomination. The email exclaimed that,

"Extreme leftists like Joe Biden will spend every waking minute over the next four years trying to tear down OUR President"[63]

On June 26, after Project Veritas uploaded videos about CNN, the campaign sent its supporters an email reading,

"This is the REAL opposition. The Democrats are a lost cause without a message, but the fake news media machine can push liberal propaganda all it wants 24/7 and pretend it's the truth."[146]

On June 4, Lara Trump spoke on behalf of the campaign, addressing a crowd of one thousand supporters at a luncheon held during the North Carolina Republican Party Convention. She stated,

“The Trump campaign is still active and I’m proud to be part of it. We work every day alongside the RNC and we are like this. We’re making sure we have an incredibly strong party, that we’re geared up for 2018, that we’re geared up for 2020. And in case nobody looked around at the other side, they look pretty bad, guys. It does not look good for the DNC right now."[147][148]

Lara Trump also made appearances on behalf of the campaign at events in New York and Texas during the month of June.[147] In New York, Lara spoke at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel on June 20th for the annual New York Republican State Committee gala.[149]

In late-June, Trump Michigan Republicans, an organization supporting Trump in the state of Michigan, began hosting seminars around the state to train supporters how to promote the president's agenda and how to bolster his reelection effort.[150]

July 2017: Sixth rally

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. Ironically, considering the event's co-sponsorship by a mass media company, Trump delved attacks on the media. The event was described as resembling one of Trump's campaign rallies.[151] That same day, the group Gays for Trump held a Make America Great Again Free Speech Rally at The Ellipse. However, this event drew only eighteen attendees.[152]

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.[153][154]

First Daughter and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump introduced Vice President Mike Pence at a GOP fundraiser in the month of July.[155]

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.[3][156][157][158]

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 strictly supposed to be nonpolitical as though they are campaign rallies.[159]

Sixth rally (Youngstown, Ohio)

Donald and Melania Trump at the campaign's sixth rally

Trump held his sixth campaign rally on July 25 at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio.[160][161]

Trump reveled in an audience outside of the national capital, exclaiming, "I'm back in the American heartland far away from the Washington swamp"[161]

At the rally Trump condemned "predators and criminal aliens", calling them "animals".[162] Chicago Tribune writer Rex W. Huppke criticized Trump's remarks, comparing them to statements that Trump had made at the National Scout Jamboree the previous day.[162]

Trump also made remarks on the homicide rate in Chicago, and called on the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, to "get tough".[163] Emanuel responded the following day, stating: "It is not about being tough, it's about being smart and strategic."[163]

August 2017: Seventh and eighth rallies and second advertising campaign

Seventh rally (Huntington, West Virgina)

Trump in Huntington, West Virginia

Trump held his seventh campaign rally at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia on August 3.[164][165]

During the rally, Trump attacked Democrats and criticized the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.[164][165] Early that day, reports revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller had assembled a grand jury as part of his investigation.[164][165]

At the rally, West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice made the surprise announcement that he was changing his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.[164]

Refutation of speculation about a Pence 2020 campaign effort

Vice President Mike Pence strongly denied charges lodged by an August 5th New York Times report, which speculated that the Vice President was orchestrating a "shadow campaign" for the presidency in the 2020 election.[166][167] Pence called the accusations, "disgraceful and offensive".[167][168][169][155] Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway called the story a, "complete fiction, complete fabrication," saying, "It is absolutely true that the vice president is getting ready for 2020, for re-election as vice president."[168]

Second advertising campaign: Let President Trump Do His Job

August 13, Trump's campaign released an advertisement entitled, Let President Trump Do His Job.[170] The ad attacks those that Trump alleges to be his 'enemies'. This divisive tone, notably, came in an ad released following the violent fraction that was displayed only one day prior in Charlottesville, Virgnia.[171] The campaign slated the advert for a national ad buy for cable television and the internet.[170] 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.[172]

CNN refused to play the ad, objecting to its portrayal of individual news anchors as being enemies of the President. In a statement provided to Buzzfeed, CNN commented,

”CNN would accept the ad if the images of reporters and anchors are removed. Anchors and reporters don't have 'enemies,' as the ad states, but they do hold those in power accountable across the political spectrum and aggressively challenge false and misleading statements and investigate wrong-doing.”[172]

Campaign chairman Michael Glassner derided CNN’s decision as, “censorship,”[172][173] saying,

"Today, CNN provided further proof that the network earns this mistrust every day by censoring President Trump's message to the American people by blocking our paid campaign ad. Clearly, the only viewpoint CNN allows on the air is CNN’s.”[172]

In retaliation to CNN, the President retweeted (and later deleted) a far-right activist’s post featuring an image of a train (identified as being the, “Trump Train”) running over CNN. This received criticism, as it came just days after a white-supremacist Trump supporter ran over a crowd of anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville.[174][175]

Eighth rally (Phoenix, Arizona)

Trump held his eighth campaign rally on August 22 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.[176][177] Trump had announced the rally on August 16.[178] The rally was the campaign’s first event in the Western United States.[178]

Trump posing for a group selfie during his tour of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Yuma, Arizona

Before attending the rally, Trump started his visit to Arizona by landing at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. He thereafter toured a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. He had been scheduled to visit the San Luis II Port of Entry, but these plans were canceled, reportedly due to security concerns.[179]

In addition to the President, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson also spoke at the rally.[179] Ben Carson's appearance may have been in violation of the Hatch Act of 1939 by appearing at the rally in his official capacity as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.[19][180][181] Additionally, if federal funds were used for Carson's travel expenses, that could place him in further violation of the Hatch Act.[180]

Phoenix’s Mayor Greg Stanton repeatedly asked that Trump postpone the event, due to the events in Charlottesville. On the morning of the rally, the Mayor said on MSNBC, “It is the wrong time for a presidential visit, the wrong time for a campaign rally so soon after the tragedy in Charlottesville.”[178][182] In the same interview with MSNBC, Stanton urged the President not to pardon Joe Arpaio.[183] Stanton also called for Trump to apologize for his handling of the aftermath of the events in Charlottesville, and called for the president to issue an apology at his rally, saying,

“Unfortunately for the president, he has hurt not only his own reputation, but really inflamed racial tension across the country as a result of this failure of moral leadership. He ought to look at the people of Phoenix, he ought to look at the American people and say ‘I am sorry for my failure of moral leadership after Charlottesville, I blew it’ and try to make it right.”[183]

Trump speaking in Phoenix

Early into the rally, Trump declared to his crowd of supporters, “our movement is about love.”[184] Trump then angrily pointed his finger at the media, whom he accused of unfairly criticizing his response to the violence that had occurred during the protests in Charlottesville.[184][185] Trump asserted that he had “openly called for healing, unity, and love” after the events in Charlottesville, and that the media had deliberately misled the public in their coverage of his response.[184] Trump spent approximately fifteen minutes commenting on Charlottesville, during which he read the three public statements that he had previously made on the events there. However, in his re-hashing of his remarks, Trump very noticeably omitted his mentions of “many sides” in the first of his statements as well as his reference of “both sides” in another of his statements.[179][186][187] The comments that he omitted had been at the center of criticism the President had received for his remarks, as they were seen as equating neo-Nazis with counterprotesters.[179][187] Thus, Trump was received criticism accusing him of entirely misleading his supporters about the controversy.[179][184][186]

During the rally, Trump issued repeated attacks towards the media, accusing them of being "liars" and "sick people" responsible for creating "division" in the country.[188][189] He accused members of the press of, "trying to take away our history and our heritage."[189] In his attacks, Trump painted the press as enemies of the American people and accused them of the press of being unpatriotic, saying, "I really think they don't like our country. I really believe that,“[189] additionally saying, “You would think they want to make our country great again. And I honestly believe they don't.”[188] At one point Trump claimed that news stations were shutting off live feeds of the rally after he continued to attack them. He called out CNN as one of them despite CNN still clearly broadcasting the rally.[190][191][192] This was not the first time he made that sort of false accusation against CNN, during his 2016 campaign he falsely made the exact same claim.[193]

Trump accused activists seeking the removal of Confederate monuments of, “trying to take away our history.” Trump further proclaimed, “our weak leaders, they do it overnight. These things have been there for 150 years, for 100 years. You go back to a university, and it's gone. Weak, weak people."[186],

During the rally Trump hinted at pardoning Joe Arpaio[179][187] saying,

"So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? ... You know what, I'll make a prediction: I think he's going to be just fine, OK? But I won't do it tonight because I don't want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe should feel good.”[179]

Ahead of the rally, there was speculation that Trump would to attack Republican Senator Jeff Flake at the rally. Flake had been a strong critic of Trump, going as far as publishing an anti-Trump book earlier in the year.[194][195][179] Indeed, without stating their names, during the rally the President made taunts clearly directed at both of Arizona’s US Senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain.[179][187][196] Immediately after the rally, Trump issued a further attack on Flake, tweeting “Phoenix crowd last night was amazing — a packed house.I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!”[186] [197]

Additionally, Trump threatened to shutdown the U.S. Federal Government if he was unable to secure funding to construct a border wall,[198][186][199][200] mentioned tensions with North Korea, [201] accused Democrats of being "obstructionists",[198] described his own restraint as being "very presidential",[202] and declared that "at some point” the United States would "end up probably terminating the North American Free Trade Agreement.[202]

Reactions to the rally

Fact-checkers found numerous false statements in Trump's remarks.[203][204][205][192] referred to Trump's rally as a, "raucous, error-filled speech".[203]

The media noted that Trump took a decidedly different tone during the rally than the restrained tone he had taken for his speech the previous day announcing his strategy for the War in Afghanistan.[201][186][206] Trumps tone was described as, “angry” by the Associated Press's Julie Bykowicz. [184] NPR’s Domenico Montanaro wrote that Trump had held a , “incendiary rally at which he ripped at cultural divides, played to white grievance, defended himself by stretching the truth or leaving out key facts, attacked members of his own party and the media, played the victim and threatened apocalyptic political consequences — all the while doing so by ignoring political norms and sensitivities.”[186]

In an interview with CNN following Trump’s rally, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described the president’s remarks as “downright scary and disturbing.”[196][201][207] Clapper called into question Trumps fitness to hold the office of President and voice concerns about the nuclear launch codes being in Trump’s hands.[207] He condemned Trump for his, “behavior and divisiveness and complete intellectual, moral and ethical void.”[201][207] Clapper stressed, “I don't know when I've listened and watched something like this from a president that I've found more disturbing,”[201] and rhetorically posed the question, “How much longer does the country have to, to borrow a phrase, endure this nightmare?”[207]

The following day, Mayor Greg Stanton commented, "Unfortunately, the President last night gave a speech that did continue to divide this country. He did nothing to unite this country"[208]

The rally was met locally by a tense climate. Large protests, from progressive organizations and by anti-hate groups, took place outside of the venue.[179][209] Phoenix had been able to avert the degree of incident that local authorities had worried was going transpire outside of the rally.[209] However, around 9pm MST (after Trumps speech ended), the police unleashed CS gas on and fired pepper-spray projectiles and rubber bullets into the crowd of protesters gathered outside the venue, a large portion of which had been well-behaved.[209][210] This was, reportedly, in response to a few protesters throwing rocks bottles that had been thrown at police.[209][210] The Phoenix Police Department subsequently announced that they would conduct an investigation into this use of force.[210]

In response to Trump's omission of critical excerpts when re-bashing his previous remarks on Charlottesville , CNN’s Don Lemon declared, “What we just witnessed was a total eclipse of the facts” (a reference to the previous day’s solar eclipse).[211][212] The morning after the rally, Trump defended this on Twitter, writing, “last night in Phoenix I read the things from my statements on Charlottesville that the Fake News Media didn’t cover fairly. People got it!”[185]

The rally was parodied on the August 24 episode of the satirical program Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Summer Edition. Actor Alec Baldwin reprised his impersonation of Trump, who he had been portraying on the show's parent program (the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live) since the beginning of its most recent season.[213][214][215]

The following week, Bloomberg News reported that Trump punished George Gigicos, who he blamed for the rally's small attendance.[216]

Revelations from August 21 Politico article

An August 21 Politico report written by Alex Isenstadt entitled Trump ramping up for 2020 reelection offered new several revelations about the campaign effort.[177]

The article reported that President Trump was making plans for an autumn campaign fundraising tour anticipated to rake-in tens of millions of dollars. The tour is to include stops in a number of states, including New York, Texas and Nevada, the latter being an important swing-state.[177]

Isenstadt reported that John McLaughlin, a pollster who had previously served Trump's 2016 campaign., was now advising his 2020 efforts. Among the advise he gave was urging the President to continue his attacks on the mainstream press.[177]

Isenstadt also reported that the campaign had been keeping tabs on individuals they had listed as being potential 2020 Democratic candidates, such as politicians Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Seth Moulton, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar, as well as businessmen Mark Zuckerberg and Howard Schultz.[177] The report also indicated that the President and his team had been bothered by reports that other Republicans have been making inroads in preparation for a presidential run should Trump flounder, and had also been keeping tabs on potential Republican challengers, particularly on John Kasich (who has been widely speculated to be preparing for a 2020 run).[177][217][218] The report indicated that the campaign was acting to undermine potential rivals, a number of whom were already visiting key primary states and speaking with donors. Once such action reportedly was having White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon propose the idea of regulating Facebook as a public utility, a move meant to psyche Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.[177]

Isenstadt reported that the campaign and Trump’s family members had been meeting monthly with the RNC to coordinate their election efforts. RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel has, on behalf of the president, supervised the assignment of over 100 staffers to key states. Romney McDaniel told Politico, "We're already engaging voters and volunteers in key battleground states to defend our majorities in 2018 and to ensure we keep the White House in 2020.” Notably, one state that had seen the placement of new staffers was the presidential swing-state of North Carolina, which lacks any mid-term senate or gubernatorial election.[177] While North Carolina lacks any significant mid-term races, it is a state that Trump won by only less than 4 percentage points in the 2016 election.[219]

Isenstadt noted the a large part of the campaign’s efforts thus far have involved an expansion of its data program being overseen by Brad PaIrscale. Isenstadt mentioned that several Trump staffers believed that the campaign’s eventual role of Campaign Manager might be filled by Parscale. Others names floated for that position include Nick Ayers and Bill Stepien (the latter, reportedly, being favored by Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner).[177]

Other developments

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. In his remarks to the American Legion, the president refrained from launching attacks on Governor Brian Sandoval and Senator Dean Heller, two Nevada politicians in attendance, both of whom are Republicans that have stood in opposition to some of the healthcare proposals championed by the President. This was in contrast to the previous night where Trump bashed John McCain for his vote against the most recent healthcare proposal endorsed by the President.[220]

The group Trump Michigan Republicans held several local events across the state of Michigan in support of Trump's agenda and reelection effort.[221]

On his August 29 visit to Texas following Hurricane Harvey, the President made the unusual move of delivering an impromptu campaign-style speech.[222][223][224] The press pool reporter from The Dallas Morning News wrote,

After the briefing, Trump did an impromptu rally type speech in front of a few hundred Trump supporters who somehow managed to know exactly where the president was doing the briefing.

He stood on a raised platform of some type. Couldn’t tell if it was a step ladder or not. But he was not on a truck. Spoke into a microphone. “I love you, you are special, we’re here to take care of you. It’s going well.” “What a crowd, what a turnout.” Reporters heard no mention of the dead, dying or displaced Texans and no expression of sympathy for them. The message was services are coming and Texans will be OK. “Texas can handle anything,” POTUS said. “We are going to get you back and operating immediately,” he told the crowd (this contradicts the “Long haul” Sen. John Cornyn has publicly discussed and the caveat from FEMA administrator long moments earlier that it’s going to be a slow process).[222]

September 2017

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.[225] However, an independent rally in support of Trump was subsequently announced to be held on that date in Georgetown, Delaware.[225] Trump lost the state of Delaware in 2016, however he won both Sussex County and Kent counties. He received his greatest level of support in Sussex County (where Georgetown is located), where he carried a majority of the vote.[226][227][228] The Georgetown rally was ultimately held, sponsored by the Sussex County Republican Committee, as the "Support Our President" rally.[228][229][230] It took place in North Bedford Street Park small park in the Georgetown.[228][229] Attendance at the Georgetown rally was approximately 100 people.[228][229] Among those who spoke was Sussex County councilman Rob Arlett, who served as the chairman of Trump's 2016 Delaware campaign.[228][230]

Mother of All Rallies

On September 16, groups supporting Trump organized a rally on the National Mall named the Mother of All Rallies.[231][232][233][234][235][236][237][238]

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.[234][233] A nearby Juggalo rally drew greater crowds than the pro-Trump rally did.[233][235]

Campaign finances

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.[239]

Trump began fundraising for his reelection campaign years earlier into his presidency than his predecessors had.[159]

First quarter of 2017

Logo of the Trump Make America Great Again Committee

By February 1, 2017, the campaign had already raised over $7 million.[40]

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.[59] On April 15, The Wall Street Journal determined that the Trump campaign had reported spending more than $500,000 in payments to companies owned by Trump, amounting to 6% of the $6.5 million that the campaign reported spending. [240] Additionally, the campaign spent more than $4 million on memorabilia (such as hats).[5]

Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) ultimately raised a combined $55 million in the 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.[5]

The Trump Make America Great Again joint fundraising committee (which sends 70% of contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign and 25% to the RNC) received contributions from Joseph Cayre and his son Jack Cayre.[241]

The Trump Victory joint fundraising committee received a $50,000 contribution from Eliot Tawil, a high-ranking employee of Jeff Sutton's Wharton Properties.[241][242][243] Trump Victory also received a sizable contribution from Consol Energy executive Craig Neal.[243]

Second quarter of 2017

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.[244][245]

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.[139]

The campaign began the second quarter with $8,361,603.28 on-hand.[3] They raised $7,954,888.84 and spent $4,369,374.54, ending the quarter with $11,947,117.58 on-hand.[3]

Among those that made contributions to the campaign in the second quarter of 2017 was Right Side Broadcasting Network-CEO Joseph Seales.[3]

Third quarter of 2017

By the end of August, the RNC had raised $87 million.[246]

Super PACs supporting Trump

Developments during the first quarter of 2017

The Great America PAC received donations from, among others, former NASCAR driver Walker Evans[249] and Insperity executive Jay Mincks.[250]

The Committee to Defend the President super PAC received contributions from, among others, Enterprise Products executive Ralph S. Cunningham.[251]

Center for Public Integrity analysis

The Center for Public Integrity published an analysis of 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.[2] Ted Harvey serves as the chairman of the Committee to Defend the President. Eric L. Beach and Ed Rollins serve as co-chairmen of Great America PAC.[2] Both PACs have previously been accused by the FEC of poorly maintaining financial records, and had been threatened with penalties.[2]

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 Charles Gantt. Gantt is the CEO of Red Curve Solutions, a political consulting firm for which Trump's 2020 campaign treasurer Bradley Crate is the senior vice president.[2]

Developments during the second quarter of 2017

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.[247][248] This is the first time in US history that a sitting vice president has founded such a political organization.[247]

Developments during the third quarter of 2017

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.[155]

Other groups supporting Trump

America First Policies

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 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.[252] Trump's former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh has also joined the organization.[99]

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.[99][100][101]

Look Ahead America

In 2017, Matt Braynard, a key member of Trump's 2016 campaign staff, established the organization Look Ahead America.[253] The organization has taken steps to target inactive voters in places such as New Hampshire.[253] Trump came close to winning New Hampshire in the 2016 election.[253]

Look Ahead America has claimed that it will not be coordinating their efforts with the president.[253]

See also



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