Trump raids coffers to battle Biden

President Donald J. Trump hosts a roundtable discussion with law enforcement officials on police and community relations in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden raised more money than President Donald Trump in May while the president spent more, digging into his deep coffers to define and attack his Democratic challenger.

Trump spent $24.5 million, more than tripling the $7.7 million his campaign spent in April, according to the latest reports with the Federal Election Commission. The incumbent struggled against falling poll numbers caused in part by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, as the U.S. economy fell into recession. Biden spent $11.7 million, down from $12.9 million the month before.

Overall, Biden and his allied committees raised $80.8 million, topping Trump for the first time. Trump’s committees combined to raise $74 million. But despite spending big in May, Trump, who has been raising money for the 2020 election since winning in 2016, added $10 million to his war chest, which now totals $265 million.

Biden and the DNC reported $122 million cash on hand. That total doesn’t include the Biden Victory Fund, which raises money for the Biden campaign, the DNC and 26 state party committees, and can accept checks of up to $620,800. Biden Victory won’t report to the FEC until July 15. Trump, the RNC and their affiliated committees have raised $817 million in the current election cycle compared to $422.3 million for their Democratic counterparts. Flush with cash after facing no serious primary opposition, Trump has had the resources to build his November get-out-the-vote machine with plenty of cash left over. Biden battled more than a dozen Democratic competitors before securing his party’s nomination.

The deeper pockets allowed Trump to launch big ad buys in battleground states in a bid to offset poll numbers that have continued to sag following a wave of protests following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Trump’s campaign has spent $26.5 million since May 3 on broadcast and cable television ads, according to Advertising Analytics. Biden has just started advertising for the general election with a $15 million ad buy.

Biden’s campaign sent an appeal to small-dollar donors to Saturday citing Trump’s much larger war chest. The email noted that Trump, who resumed in-person fundraisers after shutting them down in early March, took in $10 million at his first event on June 11 in Dallas, while Biden is still raising money virtually.

Small-dollar donors, those who contribute less than $200, gave $17.4 million to Biden’s campaign, his best month yet. Grassroots givers provided 47% of the $37 million the campaign raised. Biden has been courting small-dollar donors who supported his rivals for the nomination.

Among donors maxing out to his campaign last month were Marc Mezvinsky, the husband of Chelsea Clinton and a managing director at TPG Capital, as well as Democratic mega-donors Haim Saban and hedge fund manager David E. Shaw.

Big donors powered super-PACs supporting Biden to out-raise those backing Trump, but all spent more in May than they raised. Priorities USA Action got $2 million from Renaissance Technologies founder James Simons and $500,000 from Shaw on its way to raising $7.5 million. Priorities, which Biden designated as his preferred super-PAC in April, spent $9.7 million and ended with $16.8 million in the bank.

Unite the Country, the super-PAC formed to support Biden during the primaries, raised $1.3 million, spent $2.1 million and started June with $5.9 million in the bank. Connie Ballmer, the wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, gave $500,000.

America First Action, the super-PAC backing Trump, raised $2.4 million, spent $4.3 million and ended May with $27.1 million in the bank. Two Trump loyalists, Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson, his ambassador to the U.K., and former Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon each gave $1 million. McMahon is the chairwoman of American First.

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