The last three weeks would have been calamitous for any major party's presumptive nominee in recent memory. With the combination of the remarks concerning the potential bias stemming from the ethnicity of an Indiana-born judge, the Muslim ban, reaction to the mass shooting in Orlando and the firing of the campaign manager, one could reasonably assume that the nominee in question would be left with a lot of ground to make up.
That is, if we were not bearing witness to one of the most extraordinary election cycles in American politics -- and, of course, if that nominee was not Donald Trump.
Let's face it: Hillary Clinton is still leading in the polls. In fact, a recent WSJ and NBC poll has Clinton at 46 per cent and Trump at 41 per cent. Further, when we take a look at polls conducted in key battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, we see the race tighten. And although nearly every poll still shows Clinton ahead, almost every single poll is within the margin of error.
Now, on the surface it may look like everything is going fine for Clinton. I mean any candidate or campaign manager could not conceivably be upset with the position Clinton is currently in.
In what has been possibly the worst month a presumptive nominee could have, we see Trump still within five per cent of Clinton nationally.
The certainty of Clinton success is brought into question when we accept the fact that Clinton and Trump were virtually tied in polls towards the end of May. In fact, the RealClearPolitics polling average had the candidates within 0.2 percentage points of each other. In what has been possibly the worst month a presumptive nominee could have, we see Trump still within five per cent of Clinton nationally, and still very competitive in key battleground states.
Let's assume that Trump never has a month as bad as the last one, and he continues to refine the way he speaks about issues. Notably a clarification on the proposed Muslim ban -- his campaign now states that it will only affect certain regions "that have been a major source for terrorists and their supporters coming to the U.S." as opposed to a carte blanche ban on all Muslims from entering the U.S. This kind of pivot in rhetoric makes it likely that we will see the gap close between himself and Clinton.
It is important to mention that Trump has been doing this, as he often reminds us, at a fraction of the cost. Each of the candidates filed reports with the Federal Election Commission detailing how much money the campaigns and their super PACs raised.
Hillary Clinton's campaign (including super PACs) has raised a total of $334.9 million, already spent $195.7 million and has $42.5 million on hand. Meanwhile, at this stage, Trump has raised less than Clinton, Sanders, Bush, Cruz, Rubio and even Carson. Trump raised only $67.1 million and has spent $63.3 million, leaving only $1.3 million on hand. This even prompted Trump to send out his first-ever email solicitation for a donation from supporters.
It is unlikely Trump will be able to equal the fundraising of efforts of the Clinton campaign at this stage, although the deficit will likely be diminished following the convention when it is clear to Republicans that there will be no other viable alternative to Hillary Clinton.
Obviously there is still lots of time left and anything can happen. I would heed caution to those who consider Trump's presumptive and likely subsequent nomination a blessing for Hillary Clinton to re-think that position. What is clear is that nothing will be handed to either nominee, and the biggest mistake Hillary Clinton and her supporters can make would be to underestimate their opponent.
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Launching his Presidential bid last June, Donald Trump held up his financial statement to prove he had assets worth a total of $9 billion. In a tasteless boast, Trump went on to reveal he refused a bank's loan of $4bn. He said: “I don’t need it. I don’t want it. And I’ve been there.” While millions of Americans continue to suffer the effects of sluggish economic growth, Trump is blissfully unaffected. Well, that's how he makes it sound.
Trump says he's never had to withdraw cash from a cashpoint. During an appearance on 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien', Trump said that he'd never seen the need to use ATMs, all the while hinting at his extraordinary wealth.
Like many of his voters, money is always on Trump's mind. But unlike those struggling to make ends meet, Trump is more concerned with the perception of his wealth, which he says is "more than $9 bn". When an author suggested Trump had a net worth of less than $300m, the property tycoon sued him for libel. Yet during testimony, Trump admitted his own estimations depend on his "feelings". It was reported Trump said: "Yes, even my own feelings (guide estimates of my wealth), as to where the world is, where the world is going, and that can change rapidly from day to day." Trump lost the libel case.
Despite pretending to offer something different from the tired-old ways of Washington, Trump has admitted that he's more than willing to use dubious non-facts and statistics in an effort to further his White House ambitions. In a remarkable exchange with FOX News host Bill O'Reilly, the famously impertinent presenter took exception to flawed statistics banded about by Trump. O’Reilly: This bothered me, I gotta tell ya. You tweeted out that whites killed by blacks — these are statistics you picked out from somewhere — at a rate of 81 percent. And that’s totally wrong. Whites killed by blacks is 15 percent, yet you tweeted it was 81 percent. Now … Trump: Bill, I didn’t tweet, I retweeted somebody that was supposedly an expert, and it was also a radio show. O’Reilly: Yeah, but you don’t wanna be. … Why do you want to be in that zone? Trump: Hey, Bill, Bill, am I gonna check every statistic? I get millions and millions of people, @RealDonaldTrump, by the way. O’Reilly: You gotta, you’re a presidential contender, you gotta check ’em.
Trump once told a reporter: "I'm running for office in a country that's essentially bankrupt, and it needs a successful businessman." Yet it's not always been plain sailing for all of Trump's businesses. In the 1980s, Trump entered into the highly competitive casino market in Atlantic City, taking out huge loans on his investments and risking everything when the deals went into bankruptcy. More recently, Trump has seen his name attached to failing properties, including hotels and casinos. Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City both closed in 2014, while Trump Soho in Manhattan ran into foreclosure. Speaking to the Washington Post, Trump said of the deals: “I didn’t want to have any personal liability, so I used junk bonds. I accept the blame for that, but I would do it again,” he said. But Trump vehemently denied that the deal represented a personal failing or affected his personal wealth. He continued: “This was not personal. This was a corporate deal. If you write this one, I’m suing you.”
He's so obsessed with his image that when a "cybersquatter" took control of hundreds of online domain names, including those using the name "Trump", Donald went on the defensive. J. Taikwok Yung, a self-described "domainer" from Brooklyn, NY, was hauled before judges after Trump noticed he'd bought up a huge amount of his brand online. Trump sought the maximum damages allowed - $100,000 for each of the four Trump-related domain names bought by Yung. And he had legal grounds: Trump is a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Organisation and is adorned on many a high-stakes casino, and several hotels.
Evidence of more concerning delusion came last month, when Trump played the theme to Harrison Ford's 'Air Force One' to signal his private jet's arrival in Iowa. Trump even ordered his private Boeing 757 jet to "buzz" the control tower of a local airport, swooping low and thrilling supporters below. Trump even ensured the score to the 1997 film was playing as the jet landed and taxied into position. If that weren't enough, Trump shamelessly stood in perfect place to ensure the jet's huge "TRUMP" logo was captured by TV cameras.
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