President Joe Biden is outpacing Donald Trump when it comes to campaign money, and he’ll need it

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign is raising piles of cash. And he has an election-year strategy that, simply put, aims to spend more… and spend faster.

Biden has not only tried to show himself as a fundraising giant this month, but his campaign is also doing important early investments both on the ground and on the airwaves, hoping to create a massive organizational advantage that leaves Republican Donald Trump struggles to catch up.

But although the money pouring in has given Biden and the Democrats a major cash advantage, it is also becoming clear that Biden will need it. Throughout his life in business and politics, Trump’s provocations have earned him almost unlimited free media attention. Biden, meanwhile, has often struggled to cut through the noise with his own message despite holding the presidency.

That means Biden will need lots of cash to general states on the battlefield where a few thousand votes could mean the difference between victory or defeat. Added to this is the challenge of reaching millennials, as well as even younger voters, who formed a major part of his 2020 coalition, in a much more fractured media ecosystem that leans toward streaming services instead. of conventional broadcast and cable.

Biden’s organizing and outreach effort began in earnest this month, with the campaign using its State of the Union as a launching pad to open 100 new field offices across the country and increase the number of paid staff in the battleground states to 350 people. It is also currently in the midst of a $30 million television and digital advertising campaign targeting specific communities such as Black, Hispanic and Asian voters.

In an example of the current president’s organizational advantage, his re-election campaign in February had 480 employees on the ground, compared to 311 for Trump and the Republican National Committee, according to Biden campaign officials.

“We’re expanding campaign headquarters and field offices, hiring across the country before Trump and his MAGA Republicans have even opened a single office,” Biden boasted Friday in New York. during a meeting of its national finance committeewhich included 200 of its biggest donors and fundraisers from in and around the city.

A huge disadvantage in the ground game did not prevent Triumph of winning the presidency in 2016, a fact Democrats deeply remember.

“It’s one of Trump’s stubborn challenges,” said Robby Mook, campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid. “Trump is Trump’s best organizer and Trump can motivate people from the podium.”

But, Mook added, the biden campaign is doing what it needs to do, pointing to the State of the Union as a powerful example of how to effectively mobilize the base and harness the anti-Trump energy that will inevitably motivate many Democrats this year.

“The most magical and scary part of politics is that you never know until Election Day,” Mook said. “And so I wouldn’t want to leave anything on the table if I were them, and the great part about having a resource advantage is that you can have all these different things.”

Even Biden’s traditional campaign will likely prove much more expensive this year.

Unlike 2020, when many Americans were sheltering in place due to the pandemic, Biden will need to travel more while also building a political infrastructure that will be far more expensive than the virtual, socially distanced campaign he waged from his basement last time.

His re-election campaign will also have expenses that Trump will not have to face, such as reimburse the federal government for the use of Air Force One. So far, he has reimbursed $4.5 million for the use of the official presidential plane for political activities, according to the campaign.

Mook said decisions about how to strategically invest campaign money are never as streamlined as staff want, and there is not only a risk of spending too much too quickly, but also spending too late in an election year.

Last fall and summer, Democrats worried about Biden’s initial lack of fundraising and campaign activity. Strikes by the writers’ and actors’ guilds in Hollywood didn’t help either. effectively sidelining the pro-union president to raise money in a region that has long funded the party’s political ambitions.

Fast forward to the present and doubts about his fundraising operation have calmed down. In addition to raising millions at big-ticket events across the country (and raising $26 million at an event featuring Biden, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton on Thursday night), the president has frequently pointed to the 500,000 new donors who have contributed in recent weeks. , arguing that it is broadening its appeal.

Now, even donors lukewarm to the president are contributing, Democratic Party donors and fundraisers say.

“I think people really want to hear what they have to say,” said Michael Smith, a major Hollywood donor and fundraiser, who hosted an event in Los Angeles earlier this year with rocker Lenny Kravitz and held another event last week in Palm Springs with the president’s wife, Jill Biden. “They realize this is an investment.”

Trump campaign officials admit that Biden and Democrats will likely have more money to spend, though they argue that Trump will still be able to run an effective campaign given his ability to attract media coverage.

“Our online digital fundraising continues to skyrocket, investments from our top donors are increasing, and Democrats are spooked by President Trump’s fundraising prowess,” said Steven Cheung, communications director for the Trump campaign. “Not only are we raising the necessary funds, we are also deploying strategic assets that will help send President Trump back to the White House and get Republicans over the finish line.”

But given Trump’s propensity for making explosive comments, that can also go both ways, which Democrats are sure to exploit by using their monetary advantage to run ads. Trump’s legal fees for the large number of court cases he is involved in are also sure to be a drag on his cash situation. Records show his political operation has shelled out at least $80 million to cover court costs over the past two years.

“Trump promises to be a dictator on day one, suspend our Constitution and bring back political violence even worse than that of January 6. “His MAGA agenda is so toxic and extreme that hundreds of thousands of Republicans in swing states voted for Nikki Haley over him, even after she dropped out – how unique!” Biden campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said. “Donald Trump does not have the resources or even the will to win back those critical voters.”

It is also an open question whether Trump will be able to break through in the same way he did in 2016, when he was a political novelty. Or as he did during the 2020 election, when he held the presidency and was an omnipresent presence at a time when cooped-up Americans were glued to their televisions.

“The media landscape and where voters get their news has changed, so assumptions based on Trump’s ability to dominate mainstream media conversations must be questioned,” said Josh Schwerin, a Democratic strategist who He previously worked at Priorities USA, Democrats’ primary super political action committee during the presidency. The 2020 presidential campaign.

“Fewer and fewer voters are getting their news from traditional media, and finding ways to get information to them is increasingly difficult, and that requires money,” he said. “Both candidates will have to do this. And this is a place where having a financial advantage will be a huge benefit to the Biden campaign.”

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