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Former Vice President Mike Pence arrives to the Family Leadership Summit
Former Vice President Mike Pence arrives to the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 14, 2023.Scott Olson / Getty Images file

Eyes on 2024: How presidential candidates are spending their money

Paid advertising, consulting, staff and travel top the list of the top categories presidential campaigns spent money on in the second quarter.

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The latest campaign fundraising reports gave us a look at how presidential hopefuls have been spending their campaign cash, and their priorities. 

So we broke down the top spending categories for each candidate. Here’s what we learned: 

Who’s focusing on ads: Advertising and media placement were the top categories for three GOP hopefuls as they try to boost their name recognition: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. Burgum and Ramaswamy are both self-funders, helping them hit the airwaves early. And Scott started his race with a sizable amount of cash from his Senate campaign. 

Who’s focused on fundraising: Trump’s top spending category was on “digital consulting, online advertising and list rental,” and it was a $1.8 million payment to Campaign Inbox LLC, an email fundraising firm founded by former Trump campaign alums

Several other candidates’ top spending category was on credit processing fees as they fill their campaign coffers: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. President Joe Biden’s campaign also saw its top-spending category as “service fees,” which were mainly paid to the Democratic online fundraising firm, ActBlue.  

Who’s focused on staff: Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley spent the bulk of her money on payroll, paying her nearly two dozen staffers. But she did not have the most staff of the presidential contenders. That was DeSantis, who listed 92 staffers on his payroll. 

Who’s focused on the road: Former Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign only spent $74,000 in the three weeks that he was in the race before the books closed on June 30. More than a third of that went to “travel” which consisted mostly of a payment to Mecum Auctions, which specializes in collector cars and motorcycles. Pence’s campaign did not respond to a question about the payment.

In other campaign news…

Biden begins to shore up fundraising staff: CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports that President Biden’s re-elect has hired a finance chair, brought on former Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond as a co-chair, and tapped a DNC official to lead fundraising at the Biden Victory Fund.

Thanks but no thanks: Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp’s name keeps coming up in stories about Republican hand-wringing ahead of 2024. But Kemp told CNN,”I got a great job right now. I personally feel like having more people in the race does not help us win and beat Joe Biden. So, you know, I’m certainly not running for president. But there’s always doors opening in politics depending on how things play out, and we’ll see what happens,” Kemp said he will endorse his party’s nominee, even if it’s Trump. 

The future is now: The pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down is launching a new TV ad in Iowa that uses artificial intelligence to mimic Trump’s voice, per Politico.

Presenting the judges for the jury: Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy put out a list of possible Supreme Court and circuit court nominees he would choose from if he’s elected president (but said he could add more to the pool), per NBC News’ Jonathan Allen

Florida man: Democrat Phil Ehr, a retired Navy commander and a former Republican, announced Monday that he is running against Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott, per the Tampa Bay Times.

New “eight-figure” push to mobilize Black voters for Dems: NBC News has learned that former Congressional Black Caucus’ aides are launching a new group to help flip the House for Democrats, and make Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries the new Speaker. 

Voting changes in the Tarheel State? North Carolina lawmakers are considering a rash of new election law changes, including restrictions on same-day registration and voting by mail, as well as an overhaul of election boards, NBC News’ Jane C. Timm reports

Back to the drawing board? Republican lawmakers in Alabama are backing a congressional map with just one majority Black district despite the Supreme Court striking down the map last month after concerns it discriminated against Black voters.