First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
A Trump campaign in critical condition
Here’s the good news for Donald Trump: Despite trailing in national polls, he’s still alive in the battleground states. According to a trio of new Quinnipiac polls, Clinton leads in Florida (47%-39%) and Pennsylvania (42%-41%), while the race is tied is Ohio at 40% each. (Do realize, however: If Clinton wins Florida, it’s all but over.) But here’s the bad news: As the New York Times’ Nick Confessore puts it, Trump is entering the general election “laboring under the worst financial and organizational disadvantage of any major party nominee in recent history.” Bottom line: It is a campaign -- in money and infrastructure -- that’s in critical condition, putting his party and GOP downballot candidates at risk. Just look at the numbers:
As of May 31, Trump had just $1.3 million in the bank, versus $42 million for Hillary Clinton, according to last night’s filings with the Federal Election Commission;
Trump and his outside groups have spent $0 in the battleground states this month, compared with $23 million for Clinton and her affiliated Super PACs;
And per Politico, Trump has 69 paid staffers, versus 685 for Clinton.
In fairness to Trump, he flourished in the primaries with little staff and spending. “I spent much less than everyone else, and I beat everyone else,” he said on “Today” this morning. But we’re no longer in the primary season; in the general, spending and money benefit the party up and down the ballot. And get this: The Clinton battleground ad blitz has just begun. Indeed, the Quinnipiac polls were conducted June 8-19, so mostly before the Clinton campaign ads that began on June 16.
Trump: “I understand money far better than anybody"
On “Today” this morning, Trump responded to his rough May fundraising report. “I understand money far better than anybody,” he said, adding that he spent some $55 million of his own money in the primaries and could dig deep into his wallet in the general election. “I have a lot of cash and I may do it again in the general election,” he said. And last night, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that fundraising has picked up in June, per NBC’s Hallie Jackson. “The money is pouring in for the party. In fact, we just returned from a tremendously successful swing through Texas, Nevada and Arizona. Mr. Trump will continue to do everything he can to defeat Hillary Clinton in November.” But consider this apples-to-apples comparison from 2012: In his May ’12 fundraising report, Mitt Romney raked in $23 million and had $9.2 million in the bank. And there was this money for the party: “Today, Romney for President, Romney Victory, and the Republican National Committee announced fundraising totals of over $76.8 million in May. The campaign and RNC have $107 million cash on hand,” a June 7, 2012 Romney press release announced.
Trump dumps his campaign manager
And we haven’t even discussed Trump’s firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski until now. Here’s the dispatch from NBC’s Benjy Sarlin, Katy Tur, Hallie Jackson, and Ali Vitali: “Allies of Donald Trump celebrated campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's firing, hoping it would clear the way for a more professional operation and remove a voice that encouraged the candidate's worst instincts. But the damage from Trump's failure to mount a complete campaign — and his erratic message since securing the nomination in May — is severe and the latest fundraising numbers look downright catastrophic.” More: “The decision to drop Lewandowski came after consultations over the weekend with RNC chairman Reince Priebus about the increasingly embattled campaign, according to sources who asked for anonymity in order to speak freely. Trump's children, who long ago concluded Lewandowski was undermining their efforts, confronted their father Monday morning urging him to finalize the manager's termination.”
Clinton to hammer Trump on the economy
Meanwhile, in a speech at 11:30 am ET in Columbus, OH, Hillary Clinton is set to blast Trump on his economic and business record. “Earlier this month in San Diego, Hillary Clinton explained why Donald Trump's ideas about national security are dangerously incoherent and why he is temperamentally unfit to be commander-in-chief. Everything that applies to Trump about national security is equally true when it comes to the economy,” Clinton senior adviser Jake Sullivan says. “If we were to put Donald Trump behind the wheel of the American economy, he would very likely drive us off a cliff and working families would bear the brunt of the impact in terms of lost jobs, lost savings, and lost livelihoods.” And the Clinton camp has released this web video essentially previewing the speech: “Donald’s businesses have been good for him, but not for everybody else” the video goes.
The May fundraising reports
Here’s a breakdown of the latest fundraising reports filed with the FEC last night:
Amount raised in May
- Clinton: $28.2 million ($27.5 in primary money, $782K in general)
- Sanders: $16.4 million
- Trump: $5.6 million
Cash on hand (as of May 31)
- Clinton: $42.5 million
- Sanders: $9.2 million
- Trump: $1.3 million
On the trail
Hillary Clinton delivers her speech hitting Trump on the economy in Columbus, OH at 11:30 am ET…And Trump meets with evangelical leaders in New York City Don’t forget to check out the political unit’s rolling minute-to-minute coverage of all the latest 2016 developments at the On the Trail liveblog at NBCNews.com.