During the 2014 general election, I sat aside my differences with the Republican Party’s more moderate and/or establishment wings, and did what I could to encourage people to vote GOP since control of the U.S. Senate was at stake.
Let’s just say the ROI for that resounding election victory has been underwhelming.
In short, Republicans made campaign promises their post-election courage couldn’t cash. And unless politics is nothing more to you than a my team versus your team type of sporting event, those of us who encouraged our audiences to rally behind them at the time did nothing but create unmet expectations.
I fear the same thing is happening in the 2016 election.
We’re beyond debating the merits, or lack thereof, of Donald Trump as the GOP nominee now. That die is cast, and that ship has long since sailed. People’s minds are likely all made up on both sides, and it’s time to just let the voters decide for themselves come November 8th.
This is really about the credibility of our movement, as well as the industry known as “conservative media.” For facts are coming to light, which at the very least cast serious doubt on the truthfulness of some of the fundamental claims/promises Trump made to our people that caused a chunk of them to flock to his candidacy.
Trump promised a self-funding campaign
A recent investigation into Trump’s holdings shows he may be upwards of $650 million in debt, which is more than twice what was previously speculated. If true, this would show his liquidity lacks the wherewithal to compete against Hillary Clinton. It would also explain why until his recent modest ad-buy, Clinton had outspent Trump $52 million to nothing in campaign advertising through August 9th. A year ago at the Iowa State Fair, Trump pledged to spend a billion dollars of his own money to win the presidency. Fast forward twelve months and Trump has spent only about $50 million of his fortune. A sizable sum, yes, but a meager pittance compared to the at least $992 million Romney and his allies spent to lose in 2012. In fact, what Trump has spent so far is only about 5% of that. Just take a look at Trump’s most recent FEC campaign disclosure for July, where the devil is most assuredly in the details:
- Trump campaign spent $18 million, twice what it spent in June, but didn't run/purchase any ads during the month.
- Hillary has almost $20 million more cash on hand than the "self-funding billionaire."
- Trump campaign raised $36 million in July, which is about one-third the total Mitt Romney raised in July of 2012.
- Over $8 million of the $18 million the Trump campaign spent in July went to a Texas web design firm for online fundraising. When the largest expenditure for a campaign with little to no ground game is further developing its fundraising platform, that’s never a good sign.
- Trump campaign only spent about $26k more on staff than it did hats in July. No, seriously.
- Trump campaign spent almost a half million dollars on hats. Hats. That’s right, I said hats. In only one month.
- Trump campaign paid $660,000 for outside legal counsel. By comparison, Hillary’s campaign spent only about one-sixth of that on legal counsel in July.
- Former Iowa U.S. Senate candidate Sam Clovis made $15,000 last month for reasons only Allah knows.
- Trump campaign spent $2.5 million on private air travel, which is almost six times more than what it spent on staff/organization/ground game in July.
Trump promised to oppose ‘globalism’
Trump has frequently attacked Hillary Clinton for her high, six-figure speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, a multi-national banking company. During the GOP primary, he also attacked rival Ted Cruz as a ‘globalist’ because his wife, Heidi, previously worked at Goldman Sachs as well. However, Trump recently hired former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Bannon as his latest campaign manager. Furthermore, Trump has let it be known that if elected president he plans to nominate another former Goldman Sachs banker, Steve Mnuchin, for U.S. Treasury Secretary.
Trump promised to fight amnesty
Perhaps the only conservative issue upon which rump has built any semblance of credibility is illegal immigration. But now that too appears to be changing. Univision is reporting Trump will soon unveil his own amnesty proposal, a report the Trump campaign disputes. On Sunday, however, Trump’s latest campaign strategist, Kellyanne Conway, said on national television the “deportation force” Trump has long been advocating is “to be determined” and may be scrapped altogether. Conway, a well-known and well-respected GOP pollster/strategist, was paid to help Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg lobby for amnesty in 2014.
This is about yet another Republican politician over-promising the conservative base and then under-delivering.
Trump promised to expand the election map
What would we say if trailing consistently in polls, Hillary Clinton decided to hold rallies in unlosable blue states like California and Massachusetts with less than 80 days to go before the election? Because that’s essentially what Trump is doing by campaigning in Texas and Mississippi this week. Trump lacks organization in Hamilton County, which may be the most pivotal county in must-win Ohio. Last week, Trump opened a second field office in must-win Florida, where Hillary Clinton already had 14 field offices. Trump’s organization lags behind Hillary’s in Virginia, which no Republican has won the presidency without since before Reconstruction. Earlier this summer GOP leaders in Pennsylvania, which is crucial to any hopes Trump has of winning the White House, said there was “almost no sign” of a Trump organization there.
Again, this isn’t about our varied opinions on the merits of Trump’s candidacy. This is about yet another Republican politician over-promising the conservative base and then under-delivering. As conservative media, I would argue we have an obligation to our fellow conservatives to alert them to what is happening here, even if we’re staunchly pro-Trump. Because if this isn’t malfeasance it’s incompetence, and it will do more to help get Hillary elected than anything #NeverTrump is capable of if the Trump campaign doesn’t right the ship.
I think we’ve already proven becoming water carriers and shills for the Republican Party doesn’t serve the conservative cause. So let’s see if telling the truth works. Who knows? It might actually prompt the Trump campaign to get its act together.
Steve Deace is syndicated each weeknight by the Salem Radio Network, and is also the author of the new book A Nefarious Plot.