Is Trump ready to run a general election campaign?

Posted on June 22, 2016 By Paul Gleiser

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Let’s decide together to mark this day or our calendars so that we might refer back on Wednesday, November 9 – the morning after election day.

When we convene again that morning, we will know for certain whether the Donald Trump campaign successfully made the pivot from the primaries to the general election .

There is good reason to be concerned here on Wednesday, June 22. There are only 19 Wednesdays standing between us and election day. In those weeks, Donald Trump will have to have accomplished a lot.

According to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports, the Trump campaign had just $1.3 million in cash on hand at the end of May, compared to $42 million for the Clinton campaign.

It is certainly true that Donald Trump enjoyed unexpected success in the primaries running an unconventional campaign. With little in the way of state and local-level organization and resources, and spending a paltry amount of his own money, Trump won primaries and caucuses in 38 states. He boasts, correctly, that he received more primary votes than any other Republican candidate has ever received.

But what must be remembered is that presidential elections are not national elections. The people don’t elect the president. The states do.

Trump will need what is called – in an overused term – a “ground game” in order to win.

He will most particularly need that ground game in Ohio and Florida. If Hillary Clinton wins either of them, she will be the next president.

The Clinton campaign has its ground game. Clinton’s organization has more than 900 employees spread all across the country. By comparison, Trump’s campaign staff numbers fewer than 75. Most of them work at the Trump headquarters in New York.

In a move that tacitly acknowledges GOP concerns about Trump’s ability to run a general election campaign, Trump abruptly fired campaign manager Cory Lewandowski earlier this week. GOP veteran Paul Manafort, who was already working for the Trump campaign in the role of convention manager, is now taking on the additional title of campaign manager.

As to money, Trump dismisses concerns about his cash balances while impugning Hillary Clinton for hers. Said Trump about his own finances, “I understand money far better than anybody.” “Our campaign is leaner and more efficient, like our government should be.”

Said Trump about Hillary Clinton’s campaign cash, “Every time she raises money she is making deals. All of the money [Clinton] is raising is blood money.”

Trump has had a tough three or four weeks. The strong poll numbers of late May are slipping. Money could be a real issue. Ditto the deficit in organization as compared to the Clinton campaign.

But all of that constitutes conventional, “expert” analysis. It must be noted – again – that Donald Trump has defied convention and has defied the “experts” from the very first day in June of last year when he announced his candidacy.

Much stands in the way of a Trump presidency. What happens starting today will tell the tale.

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