April 13, 2024

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Trump Truth's Social Inclusion Throws a Curve Ball into the Presidential Race

Trump Truth's Social Inclusion Throws a Curve Ball into the Presidential Race

A merger deal involving former President Trump's Truth Social platform is the latest financial development in the race for the White House as he looks to close a fundraising gap with President Biden.

Biden's campaign has significantly outpaced Trump's campaign two months into 2024, even as polls show a close race nationally with Trump ahead in key states. Trump also faces significant financial hurdles as his criminal cases drain millions of dollars that could be used to help his campaign. Meanwhile, he faces a Monday deadline to post nearly half a billion dollars in bonds in the civil trial related to his company.

For his part, Trump backed down from reports of his financial struggles. He said Friday he has more than $500 million in cash, contradicting his lawyers who said he doesn't have enough to cover the $454 million bond he must post. But he indicated that he had no intention of using it.

Trump added: “This does not mean that I will give money to a rogue and incompetent judge. He is a puppet in the hands of a corrupt prosecutor who has failed in violent crimes and immigrant crimes and whose only goal in life is to try to undermine Trump.” He told Fox News Digital In an interview.

The multibillion-dollar merger deal announced Friday raised questions about whether it could generate money for Trump to catch up with Biden in the cash race and help with his legal expenses. While it is unclear exactly how this development will be developed, there are regulations that will limit the extent to which the former president's financial situation will improve in the near future.

Provisions in the merger between Digital World Acquisition Corp. and Truth Social prevent major shareholders from selling their shares for at least six months, so the $3.5 billion Trump — who would be the majority shareholder — could get from the deal likely won't be available. In time until the bond matures. However, Trump may try to obtain an exemption that would allow him to sell his shares if the company's board of directors, which largely includes his allies, approves.

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The merger comes at a time when Trump is facing severe financial hardship with the start of the general election campaign. The former president has used much of his share over the past year to deal with his legal battles as he faces four criminal indictments in separate jurisdictions.

Trump's fundraising committees spent nearly $30 million on legal expenses throughout the second half of 2023, bringing the total he spent on legal fees last year to about $50 million. His leadership PAC, Save America, spent nearly $3 million on legal consulting fees in January and another $5.6 million last month, leaving only $4 million in cash to start this month.

The civil judgments against him were more costly financially. He needed to post nearly $91 million bail this month as he appeals a ruling that found he defamed writer E. Jean Carroll by saying she lied about him sexually assaulting her.

But the biggest financial hurdle is the $454 million he needs to pay in the civil fraud case. Trump's lawyers said in a lawsuit on Monday that securing full bail was “practically impossible.”

Meanwhile, Biden is ahead of Trump in how much he raises. In the last quarter of 2023, Biden raised $33 million, far exceeding the $19 million raised by Trump.

This disparity continued until the beginning of this year. Biden's campaign apparatus raised $42 million in January, while Trump's major committees raised just $13.8 million. Trump ramped up fundraising in February to a total of just over $20 million, but Biden's operation took in $53 million.

Some Republican strategists attributed the big difference to Trump having just emerged from an active and hotly contested Republican primary, while Biden faced little opposition to secure the nomination.

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“Republicans didn't have to nominate Trump. The Democrats had to nominate Biden. “If Trump were the incumbent president in this scenario, he would have beaten Biden, no questions asked,” Republican strategist Zachary Moyle said.

“The simple answer…is the fact that Republicans had a choice, and Democrats didn't have a choice. Nikki Haley hasn't been away from the scene for long, and that's the difference in fundraising.

Haley, who emerged as the last remaining alternative to Trump in the New Hampshire primary in January, has maintained significant financial support even as Trump continues to win the first primaries and caucuses. It has landed a number of traditional Republican mega-donors, including billionaire Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone and the political network of Charles Koch.

This was the first time that Koch's Americans for Prosperity organization endorsed a Republican presidential candidate in a primary election.

Significant funding also went to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), especially earlier in the race when he was seen as the candidate most likely to beat Trump.

“If you took all that money and threw it back into Trump World, Trump would raise a lot,” Moyle said. “A big question for people who were hoping for a different confrontation on the conservative Republican side, are they going to be in at some point or staying out?”

Democrats said Trump's financial difficulties would give Biden an advantage as the race continues, and said he was showing stronger enthusiasm for Biden than opinion polls indicate.

Strategist Clay Middleton, a member of the Democratic National Committee, said that the observer does not expect the amount of money raised to be possible based on opinion polls.

“It would be better if we were one of them,” he said, referring to the Republican Party. “They will take our poll numbers and our fundraising numbers any day of the week against our fundraising and poll numbers.”

He said the financial advantage would allow the Biden campaign to organize on the ground to establish connections with voters and “deep organizational relationships” sooner, beyond digital and TV ads.

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“We are peaking at the right time, and things will only get better from here,” Middleton said.

Democratic strategist Crimson McDonald said she believes polls are better at signaling discontent among voters. Among Biden's supporters, she said, they recognize the importance of money in politics, but they are a quieter group of supporters than former President Obama's supporters, who were more publicly enthusiastic.

“He's not someone people are going to talk about to the world I love [Biden]“But … people who donate, who care enough to know he needs to become president, or need to invest in some way, they donate,” McDonald said.

But Republicans said that this disparity may not make Trump as weak as other political candidates, pointing to Trump's victory in 2016 despite Hillary Clinton's victory over him.

Justin Saifee, a Republican Party strategist, said that Trump does not need to raise more money than his opponent, just enough to win. He added that he is not yet concerned about Biden's fundraising advantage.

He also pointed to Democratic Senate candidates who beat Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lindsey Graham (R-C.) in 2020 and lost.

“Those dollars have not been translated,” Saifee said.

He said the joint fundraising committee formed by Trump and the Republican National Committee should help improve the numbers by giving the campaign the party infrastructure, just as Biden has been able to work with the Democratic National Committee.

“I think you're going to see consolidation among Republicans, and I think his fundraising numbers are going to go up as a result of that now that he's the party's de facto nominee,” Saifee said.

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