Presumptive Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump answered a number of questions that have been swirling around his campaign in a pre-taped interview with NBC News’ Meet The Press on Sunday morning. And, in typical Trump style, the core message basically boiled down to “nothing to worry about.”
A nuanced analysis of how Trump’s doing right now, however, doesn’t suggest that things are going quite as smoothly or fluidly as he might like.
As Meet The Press host Chuck Todd highlighted after his segment aired, the Trump campaign is currently trailing in the polls with no bounce in sight. Trump faces the possibility that the GOP establishment will try to usurp his nomination at the Republican National Convention in July and is getting outspent by the Clinton campaign in advertising by a staggering margin, to the tune of over $41 million against zero dollars.
Speaking to NBC News’ Hallie Jackson in Las Vegas on Friday, Trump responded to all the tumult, attempting to tamp down concerns amid the voting public and the Republican Party.
First, on the point of his fundraising and the wavering support of his own party, the real estate magnate insisted he could win with or without his party’s support, because he’s “a different kind of candidate.”
“We’re going to raise a lot of money. I've raised a lot of money this weekend. I'm raising it for the Republican Party. I mean, I'm doing a good job. If you look at Reince, he'll say that we have done an amazing job, in a very short period of time. We're going to have a great convention, and I think we're going to go on to a great victory. It would be nice if the Republicans stuck together. But I think because I'm a different kind of a candidate, and you know, Paul Ryan said that, I'm a different kind of a candidate, I think that I win either way. I can win one way or the other. ... I do believe that. Because I obviously won the primaries without them, I’m an outsider and I won the primaries, I do believe that we can win either way, but it would be nice if we stuck together.”
That’s a pretty optimistic outlook, considering that Trump is facing rumors of a potential overthrow, and that his campaign is reportedly in dire financial straits, with some Republicans fearing that Trump himself simply doesn’t have the fundraising mettle to compete with a juggernaut Clinton campaign.
Jackson put this to Trump, saying “your critics say, within your own party, your campaign is not organized well enough, it doesn’t have the money, and it doesn’t have the infrastructure in the battleground states.” Needless to say, Trump was having none of it.
“Well, if it were short of money, because we’re raising a lot of money for the party, but if it were short of money, from myself, I would put up my own money. I’d just put up my own money, if it was at all short of money.”
When Jackson pressed on how much of his own money he’d spend, Trump replied “I’d put up whatever I need to win. I’d put up my own money.” This is a significant claim, given the amount of money it typically takes to run a modern presidential campaign. The Clinton camp is reportedly expecting to bring in more than $1 billion this season, before it’s all said and done.
Even that eye-popping figure would ostensibly be comfortable for Trump to cover himself, based on his own estimates of his wealth, although not everybody is so sure he’s on-the-level when he calls himself a multi-billionaire.
Some media observers have suggested that his true fortune may be far less than he frequently claims, which could explain why he abandoned his claims of self-funding following the primaries (although that claim wasn’t strictly true either, as he’s been accepting donations for the duration of his candidacy).
Jackson also asked Trump about the rumors that the GOP convention rules committee might try to overthrow him at the convention, which Trump stated was “not legal.” That’s not true, however.
Despite the nominating contests looking like legally binding democratic elections, they’re not. The major political parties are entirely within their rights to nominate whoever they want, and can set their own processes for doing so. The law simply doesn’t enter into it.
In short, Trump increasingly looks like a candidate backed into a corner, and, his relatively soft-spoken conversation with Jackson notwithstanding, he’s probably starting to feel some heat. The next big question is whether more prominent Republicans start expressing their doubts, which could embolden a potential overthrow attempt at the Republican convention in Cleveland next month.