Backing Trump is an odd way of protesting money in politics

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
A supporter showing his Donald Trump tattoo before a campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday.

Without much question, part of Donald Trump’s appeal to certain voters is that he is paying most of the costs for his own campaign and therefore won’t be indebted to the kind of deep-pocketed donors that finance other candidates. He talks about it all the time, and always gets a big reaction.

Furthermore, a huge — a staggering, really — majority of Americans believe that rich contributors have too much influence over politicians. So one argument in Trump’s favor is that he won’t owe anything to his rich contributors.

(This is probably a significant factor in the otherwise-puzzling polls results that suggest a significant number of voters are torn between supporting Trump and supporting Bernie Sanders, the other candidate in the race who hasn’t been financed by fatcats.)

Of course, electing Trump would be an odd way of overcoming the influence of billionaires, as it would concentrate influence in the person of one billionaire.

Less often noticed is the fact that Trump’s campaign spends far less than do his rivals  for the Republican nomination. The biggest expense in presidential campaigns (including funds spent by what we laughably call “independent” third-party groups such as super PACS) over recent cycles has been for TV ads. But Trump relies — far more than any other campaign, and far more effectively — on tweets and “free media” (which refers to his constant appearances on the cable news channels and the Sunday-morning political talk shows).

It would be interesting if the richest person ever to run for president also turned out to be the candidate who demonstrated that money is no longer as big of a factor in politics as we have believed over recent decades.

But Trump, who is seeking to finish off Marco Rubio Tuesday by beating Rubio in the senator’s home state of Florida (and polls suggest he is well-positioned to pull that off), has made an exception to his general avoidance of TV advertising to run one very nasty attack ad against Rubio.

One of the “benefits” of living in a state like Minnesota that doesn’t get much attention in either the primary/caucus nor the general-election portion of the campaign is that we don’t get much of the dark/depressing/despicable discourse that dominates political advertising. (If, on the other hand, you happen to own a TV station, this is not such a blessing.)

Anyway, if you’d like to see what a Trump-sponsored attack ad looks like, it’s embedded in this New York Times piece (which confirms that Trump was spending heavily on it and which includes a fact-check of the statements in the ad).

And here’s Politifact’s workup of the ad, which led to a rating of “mostly false.”

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Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Jim Million on 03/15/2016 - 09:50 am.

    The best photo to date here…

    Can this image ever be forgotten to history, regardless of immediate outcomes?

    Makes one’s imagination work on possible engravings below the left shoulder, yes?

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 03/15/2016 - 10:35 am.

    Which is harder to get your arms a round a guy like Trump who has employed 10’s of thousands of folks in the private sector or a person like Hillary that has made 10’s of millions with never having a private sector job the past 30 years? Which one has more to do with money and politics?

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/15/2016 - 12:07 pm.

      Friend of the little guy…

      You mean this Trump?


      Real-estate tycoon Donald Trump argued during the Tuesday-night Fox Business Network debate that US wages are “too high” — and he didn’t back off the next morning when pressed.

      “It’s a tough position politically,” Trump admitted during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

      “We have to become competitive with the world. Our taxes are too high, our wages are too high. Everything is too high. We have to compete with other countries.”….

      ….But Trump held his ground Wednesday despite “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski telling him that “nobody can live” on the federal minimum wage of $7.50 an hour….

      (end quote)

      Making America great again, one pauper at a time.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/15/2016 - 10:50 am.

    Outraged about loss of jobs–vote for the outsourcer

    Tired of being fooled–vote for the scammer

    Saddened by the loss of Christian values–vote for the lying adulterer

    Worried by the concentration of wealth–vote for the billionaire

    Want someone who tells it like it is–vote for the salesman who is trying to sell you

    It all makes no sense.

    But hey, PT Barnum, and all that.

  4. Submitted by Jim Million on 03/15/2016 - 11:02 am.

    Fair Statement Here

    I don’t know, but, maybe HRC’s money comes from the other “private sector,” the one manipulating the “public sector.” The “generic sector.”

  5. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 03/15/2016 - 01:49 pm.

    Missed opportunity

    Trump, naturally, has missed a huge opportunity here to offer to fix the broken and corrupt campaign finance system he decries. Instead, I guess we’re supposed to rely on benevolent billionaires to work on our behalf.

  6. Submitted by Tim Smith on 03/15/2016 - 02:36 pm.

    billionaire smack down

    George Soros (via Hillary and her other billionaire supporters) vs. Donald Trump. an interesting fall it will be.

  7. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 03/15/2016 - 03:43 pm.

    Is he or isn’t he running ? For himself or the country?

    I don’t believe Trump wants to be President. His narcissistic behavior is being fed big time but the fact he may become the nominee is starting to scare him. His only way out, as he sees it, is to start doing things that no one will tolerate. His numbers will dwindle, his run will be done, and he can go back to selling steaks, wine, and reopen the doors of Trump University.

    The seventy eight year old guy that punched the black guy on TV should be charged with a terroristic threat based on him saying, “The next time they see him they may have to kill him.” Trump said he will pay the perpetrator’s legal fees. Trump should be charged with inciting civil unrest with his over the top incendiary language. Trump is a guy who has had it his way his whole life. Trump is really rattled now that he is being challenged and he doesn’t know how to react in an appropriate way when he is disrupted. He just resorts to his management style, which is management by intimidation. Trump’s paper-thin skin reminds me of Jesse Ventura when his narcissistic behavior made it hard for him when he was challenged by news media questioning. Narcissism has a very short shelf life when it comes to accepting it.

    On the flip side the rest of the GOP field is very weak. They can’t even challenge Trump when his behavior is out of bounds without waiting to see what the public’s response to Trump is. Their responses are all based on a political calculation, not doing the right thing of calling him out. Trump says he is just the anger messenger. He is also the anger instigator who said he will pay the legal fees of his supporters who get sued for fighting, you know punching them in the face. Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich recognize the damage Trump is doing to the Republican Party and yet they are having a tough time saying they wouldn’t support Trump if he is the nominee. I guess it’s some more of that good old GOP logic, with all things considered by the GOP, Trump is still fully qualified to be President of the United States. Trump wants to loosen the liable laws so he can sue anyone that says anything bad about him. I guess he has seen what President Obama has had to put up with from the Republicans for the last seven years.

    The GOP has had seven years to figure out who the leader of the Republican Party is and they still don’t have an answer. They have had seven years to figure out what they would replace the Affordable Care Act with and they still don’t have any coherent answers. They have bounced from ultra conservative to the fringe element for the last seven years with false claim upon false claim. Look up leaderless in the dictionary and you will see a picture of the GOP. The way the GOP campaigns are progressing the possibility of anarchy increases each day. McCain and Palin started this type of politics with their false claims about then Senator Obama. It nearly got away from them before McCain was able to calm things down with no help from rabble-rousing partner Palin, who has endorsed Trump. Trump is radical enough that David Duke, former grand wizard of the KKK, endorsed Trump. It took Trump several days before he disavowed Dukes endorsement.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/15/2016 - 04:46 pm.

      Lets look at the “legal fees” issue.

      Last month, he said he would pay the fees for anyone who felt moved to attack a protester.
      …”If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them,” Trump said. “Just knock the hell — I promise you, I’ll pay the legal fees.”…

      On March 13th he said, “I’ve actually instructed my people to look into it, yes,” Trump said.

      And this morning (March 15), he said:
      “Somebody asked me the question. And I hadn’t even seen it. So I never said I was going to pay for fees,” he recalled.

      “You said you were ‘looking into it,'” host George Stephanopoulos pressed. “And I’m just saying, if you’re open to that, wouldn’t by paying those fees, wouldn’t that be rewarding violence?”

      Trump replied:

      Well, maybe so. And maybe that’s why I wouldn’t do it. I don’t condone violence at all. I looked and I watched and I’m going to make a decision, but I certainly don’t condone violence. And maybe you’re right. And maybe that’s why I wouldn’t do it.


      And this is the person a significant portion of the people trust as truth telling, standing by what he says, a world class tough negotiator that will drive all other countries to their knees, the man who knows his mind and isn’t afraid to speak it, has it all figured out.

      PT Barnum, again:

      “Every crowd has a silver lining.”

      “I don’t care what they say about me, just make sure they spell my name right!”

      “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”

      “The bigger the humbug, the better people will like it.”

      “You can fool some of the people all of the time; you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can never fool all of the people all of the time.”

  8. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 03/15/2016 - 04:20 pm.

    Possible headline we will never read…

    “Backing Hilary is a great way to support big money in politics.”

  9. Submitted by Howard Miller on 03/15/2016 - 04:45 pm.

    In America, we answer to those who write the checks …

    … so … if Donald Trump is the one writing the checks for his presidential run,
    we may reasonably conclude he’ll answer to himself, and no one else.

    That should give any democracy-loving human significant pause, supporting a president who believes only he may hold himself to account, no one else counts. Especially one who is entirely comfortable in the skin of a racist, sexist religious bigot who condemns everyone else as losers, as Trump actually does.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/16/2016 - 06:59 pm.

      It’s not who writes the checks

      It’s who puts the money into the accounts.
      Trump is already spending more than his own money, and he’ll need a lot more for an election.

  10. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 03/16/2016 - 09:09 am.

    Trump as Presient

    would be as erratic and off the wall as Jesse Ventura was as our governor.

    He would use his power to punish old sleights and pursue vendetta’s,…

    while creating new ones to pursue, including against other nations.

    There would be no such thing as “the national interest,”…

    what would be important is whatever was important to Trump at any particular moment (which could change at any time).

    He would seek to shape the government in ways that benefit very wealthy scammers and “deal makers” such as himself,…

    (no penalties for massively ripping people off,…

    no taxes for massive profits made the way Trump makes them,…

    no protection or recourse for those you’ve damaged).

    Nothing that allowed “losers” to get in the way of “deals” he was trying to make would be permitted.

    If Trump were to be elected, he would seek to create government “of Trump, by Trump, and for Trump.”

    It’s highly unlikely that he would withdraw from his business interests, but would likely continue to pursue them openly even as president,…

    (as VP Cheney did far more surreptitiously).

    Those who stroked his ego would do very well.

    Those who offended him would be dealt with in very uncomfortable ways.

    But I can’t help but wonder what he’d do when he said to Congress “You’re fired!” and nothing happened.

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