The eventful launch of Donald Trump – POLITICO

« It was a disaster, » said a person close to the campaign.

Trump’s political operations have never been displays of quiet efficiency. But the first two weeks of his third run for the White House have laid bare how Trump’s freewheeling approach — and the chaos that ensues — remains a defining feature.

As rumors began to swirl around dinner with Ye, Trump’s own team received conflicting reports about whether Fuentes had joined the former president as well. The scramble for specific information about who was with Trump was due to the fact that so few aides were with Trump during the holidays. And there were suspicions that Trump was being set up by Ye’s attention-hungry advisers.

Trump has since released multiple statements saying he did not know who Fuentes was. But he did not condemn the views repeatedly expressed by Fuentes. Fellow Republicans believe the whole episode was damaging to him, with Republican allies and lawmakers urged to respond to Trump’s dinner and offer their own condemnations of Fuentes’ hate speech.

« It’s never as bad as it looks or as good as it looks, » a senior GOP campaign official said. « But man, it’s pretty damn bad for him right now. »

Trump aides point out that the former president continues to dominate in the 2024 primary polls and is no stranger to contentious news cycles. They note that millions tuned in to his announcement and he continued to fundraise and is now selling 2024 merchandise on his website. And they’re working to right the ship, with plans to formalize his surrogate operation, shift the focus from claims that the Biden administration has weaponized the justice system against Trump, and accusations that Biden himself is n isn’t tough enough on China. They also plan to put Trump back in the spotlight with appearances and interviews — two things he’s mostly avoided since launching his campaign.

“Headlines matter less to him because everything about Trump is already embedded,” former Trump adviser Bryan Lanza said. « Trump has a Universal Name ID and there’s no persuading way [voters]. And unlike a new candidate, he doesn’t have to build a ground or base game — he already has that. The weekly campaign benchmarks are therefore different. Who will he persuade a few days before Christmas?

Trump is set to appear at an « American Freedom Gala » Thursday at Mar-a-Lago, and he and Melania Trump are set to be special guests at a charity event Sunday in Naples, Florida.

But even if those steps are taken, others remain, because Trump is using a small team and has yet to make the kind of traditional investments that typically follow the announcement of a presidential candidacy.

Neither the Trump campaign nor his main fundraising operation, the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, currently spends money on ads running on Meta (the rebranded Facebook) platforms, and has run no significant amount of advertisements since he launched his last campaign on November 16. 15. His operation launched no new creative content on the advertising platform – which includes both Facebook and Instagram – seeking to capitalize on him by advertising his run.

« It’s way too early to spend on this stuff, we don’t even know the date of the caucuses in each state. A lot of things change with the calendar, and we’re not just going to spend money for the sake of spending money. We’re going to be good stewards and maximize impact,” a person from Trump’s campaign said.

But his absence from Meta surprised top digital agents on both sides, who say it’s a lost opportunity to raise funds and make new contacts. « It’s shocking, » said a Democratic official in this space.

Trump himself remains banned from Meta — a move the company is expected to review in January. But his political operation has been running fundraising ads and promoting his rallies since last summer. At the time, a spokesperson for Meta said it was permitted as long as the messages weren’t in the former president’s voice, a policy that is still in effect.

Trump was one of the few Republicans to have run some sort of meaningful acquisition drive — building the email contact list essential to any political organization — on Meta’s services since the 2020 election.

But his spending pales in comparison to when he was actively running for president for the second time. Since Trump’s political operation resumed running ads on the platform in June 2021, the joint fundraising committee has spent just $2.3 million on ads on Meta’s platform. on nearly a dozen pages — up from over $113 million on his main page alone from May 2018 to he was banned from the platform in January 2021.

However, Trump is not entirely absent from digital advertising. Its fundraising committee has spent money on ads on Google, raising over $100,000 since launch.

« Trump News: Donald J. Trump is running for president in 2024, » reads one such recent ad. « Donate to show your support. »

Sam Stein contributed to this report.


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