Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2020

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Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2020
Donald Trump 2020 campaign committee logo, extracted from letter-heading (01).png
Candidate Donald Trump
President of the United States

Mike Pence
Vice President of the United States
Affiliation Republican Party
Status Announced: February 17, 2017
Headquarters Trump Tower
Manhattan, New York City, New York
Key people Michael Glassner (campaign committee manager)[1]
John Pence (campaign committee deputy executive director)[1]
Bradley Crate (campaign treasurer)[2]
Receipts US$7,000,000
Slogan Keep America Great[3][4]

The Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2020 is an ongoing re-election campaign by President of the United States Donald Trump, who took office on January 20, 2017.


Trump started spending money on the 2020 race on November 24, 2016 (only sixteen days after the end of the 2016 election), the earliest campaign disbursement that his committees reported was spent towards the 2020 presidential primaries was for the purchase of a Delta Air Lines ticket on this date.[5]

On January 10, 2017, Politico reported that Trump would be keeping his campaign offices in Trump Tower open in order to lay the groundwork for a re-election campaign,[6][7] on January 18, Trump revealed in an interview with The Washington Post that he had decided on Keep America Great as his 2020 campaign slogan.[3][8][9] Two days later, on the day of his inauguration, President Trump filed a form with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) declaring that he qualified as a candidate for the 2020 Presidential election.[10][11][12][13]

The 2020 campaign office is based in Trump Tower. By January 2017 it already included a staff of about ten people led by Republican strategist Michael Glassner.[1][14] Glassner's deputy is John Pence, nephew of Vice President Mike Pence,[1] the campaign staff focuses on data-building and fundraising for a 2020 re-election campaign.[14][15] By February 1, 2017, the campaign had already raised over $7 million.[16]

Trump launched his reelection campaign significantly earlier in his presidency than his predecessors did. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan all declared their candidacies for reelection in the third year of their presidencies.[17][18] Trump filed the papers for his reelection campaign approximately 47 months prior the date of the election;[17] in contrast, both Reagan and George H. W. Bush filed approximately twelve months, George W. Bush filed approximately eighteen, and both Clinton and Obama filed approximately nineteen months prior to the date of the election,[17] although the early campaign filing is unusual, aspects of a "permanent campaign" would not be entirely unprecedented in American politics, dating at least from the presidency of Bill Clinton under the advice of Sidney Blumenthal.[19]

While previous presidents had held rallies in the early days of their presidency to garner support for legislation, such rallies had differed from those held by Trump in that they were funded by the White House rather than by campaign committees.[18][20] Trump's February rally in Melbourne was the earliest campaign rally for an incumbent president.[19]

Trump will be 74 years old by election day 2020.[21][22][23] This would make Trump the oldest-ever presidential nominee on a major party ticket, surpassing Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole, both of whom were age 73 when they were the Republican Party nominees in 1984 and 1996, respectively.[24][25][26]

If Trump is reelected, it would be the first time in American history that there have been four consecutive presidents who were elected to two terms.[27][28] If Trump completed his second term on January 20, 2025, he would be 78 years old and would have become the oldest person to serve as president, surpassing Ronald Reagan (who was 77 when he left office in 1989).[a]

Early campaign developments[edit]

February 2017: Florida rally[edit]

Trump speaking at his first campaign rally in Florida

The first rally paid for by the campaign was held on February 18, 2017, in Melbourne, Florida,[29] and was attended by an estimated 9,000 supporters,[30] this was the earliest an incumbent president had ever held a campaign rally.[19]

Speaking at the rally, Trump defended his actions and criticized the media,[19] he referred to "what's happening last night in Sweden" while criticizing the asylum policies of several European countries, though no incident had occurred the night before.[31] He was lambasted by the press and the Swedish government.[32][33] Reacting to the backlash, Trump later stated that he was referring to a Fox News program aired the previous day,[34] including an interview with Ami Horowitz on Tucker Carlson Tonight.[35] Several days after Trump's explanatory tweet, the website of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs published a page disputing claims Horowitz made in that interview, as well as related claims about migration and crime in Sweden.[33]

Trump laying a wreath at the tomb of Andrew Jackson at The Hermitage prior to his Nashville rally
Trump speaking at his rally in Nashville, March 15, 2017
Rally in Louisville, March 20, 2017

March 2017: Second and third rallies[edit]

The campaign's second rally was held a month later in Nashville on March 15, and coincided with the 250th birthday of Andrew Jackson. Prior to the rally, Trump paid tribute to Jackson and laid a wreath at his tomb.[36][37][38][39][40] Trump was the first sitting president to visit Jackson's tomb since Ronald Reagan,[37][40] who had done so on March 15, 1982[38][39] when he participated in commemorating Jackson's 215th birthday before addressing a joint session of the Tennessee General Assembly.[37] During the rally, Trump promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defended his revised travel ban, hours before it was put on hold by Derrick Watson, a federal judge in Hawaii.[41]

A third rally was held by the campaign in Louisville on March 20, at the rally, Trump made no reference to James Comey's testimony before Congress earlier that day, where Comey denied having any proof backing up Trump's wiretapping allegations.[42][43]

Affiliated rallies
Trump waves to supporters in West Palm Beach on March 4

On March 4, there were a series of rallies held by allies of the campaign in some 50 cities (including Nashville, Phoenix, Boston, Denver, Miami, St. Paul, and Berkley).[44] In several cities, they were met by counter-demonstrations[45] where some protesters were arrested.[46][47]

Other events were held around the country throughout March, some of which resulted in violence.[48]

Other developments
The president's daughter-in-law Lara Trump began working as a consultant to the campaign's digital vendor

March 29 it was reported that Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of the President, had been hired as a consultant by the campaign's digital vendor Giles-Parscale.[49]

April 2017[edit]

By mid-April the Trump campaign had a staff of around twenty employees.[50]

Speech to the National Rifle Association

While attending an April 28 event for the National Rifle Association, Trump commented on the 2020 race, he received criticism for using language that many outlets deemed to be pejorative towards Native Americans. Trump derogatorily referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren, a speculated potential candidate for the Democratic nomination, by the Native American epithet "Pocahontas", a reference to her unproven claims of Native American heritage. He had previously used this as a derisive nickname for Warren during his 2016 campaign. Trump said, "I have a feeling that in the next election you're going to be swamped with candidates, but you're not going to be wasting your time. You'll have plenty of those Democrats coming over, and you're going to say, 'No, sir—no, thank you. No, ma'am.' Perhaps 'ma'am.' It may be Pocahontas, remember that. And she is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you, but you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you."[51][52][53][54]

Harrisburg rally (100th day in office)
Trump and Pence arrive in Pennsylvania on April 29 for their rally in Harrisburg

Trump held his fourth campaign rally on April 29 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. The rally coincided with the hundredth day of Trump's presidency,[55][56] it also took place the same night as the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which Trump did not attend (marking the first time that a president skipped the dinner since Ronald Reagan was recovering from a gunshot injury in 1981).[56][57] Trump made several references to the Correspondents' Dinner, which was being held at the same time as the rally,[58] he also remarked, "Let's rate the media's 100 days ... because as you know, they are a disgrace."[58]

In addition to Trump, Vice President Pence also spoke at the April 29 rally. Pence declared, "Our new president is doing exactly what he said he would do." Pence also boasted that the president had signed more executive orders during his first hundred days than any president had in 50 years.[58] Trump had formerly criticized his predecessor Barack Obama's use of executive orders.[59]

Upon seeing a protester at the rally, Trump exclaimed, "Get him out of here." After this, members of the Trump-supporting group Bikers for Trump accosted and jostled several individuals at the rally. Politico speculated that this instance might play against Trump in ongoing litigation accusing him of inciting violence at his 2016 campaign rallies.[60]

In addition to holding a rally, Trump wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post detailing what he believed were the accomplishments of his first hundred days.[61][62][13]

May 2017[edit]

First campaign ad: First 100 Days

On May 1 the campaign announced that they were spending $1.5 million on national advertisements. According to a campaign statement, these ads would tout the accomplishments of first hundred days as demonstrating Trump's "clear vision, resolute leadership, and an uncompromising dedication to the American people."[61][63][64] The ad buy included digital targeted advertisements meant to appeal to voters that supported specific agenda items of Trump's presidency.[63] This ad buy came 1,282 days (approximately 42 months) before election day 2020,[13][64][65] and before any other major candidates had officially declared their candidacy for the nominations of either party.[65][66]

The campaign's first television advertisement (which hit the airwaves the same day that the ad buy was announced)[64][66] was titled "First 100 Days".[63] found several inaccuracies in the advertisement, including an inflation of job-growth numbers.[67] Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune described the 30-second advertisement as being, "stuffed with Trump's signature misleading puffery".[66]

The ad originally contained a clip of Trump shaking hands with H. R. McMaster while in uniform. McMaster, who is an active-duty member of the military, is barred from participating in any political advocacy whilst in-uniform according to Defense Department policy,[68] after Federal Election Commission general counsel Larry Noble wrote on Twitter that the ad "seems to violate intent of military policy," subsequent airings of the advertisement substituted this clip.[63][68]

The ad claimed that the "fake news" media refused to report the successes of the administration.[63][65][69][70] Forbes pointed out, however, that the ad itself cited mainstream media sources (including CNBC, The Boston Globe and The New York Times) to support its claims.[69]

Because of this accusation against the news media, CNN decided to stop running the ad, stating on May 2, "CNN requested that the advertiser remove the false graphic that says the mainstream media is 'fake news', the mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false. Per our policy, it will be accepted only if that graphic is deleted, those are the facts."[71][72][73]

Campaign manager Michael Glasssner commented, "It is absolutely shameful to see the media blocking the positive message that President Trump is trying to share with the country. It's clear that CNN is trying to silence our voice and censor our free speech because it doesn't fit their narrative."[71][72][73]

ABC, CBS and NBC later joined CNN in refusing to play the ad. ABC commented, "We rejected the ad because it did not meet our guidelines. We have previously accepted Trump ads and are open to doing so in the future."[74] NBC said, "Consistent with our policies, we have agreed to accept the ad if the inaccurate graphic—which refers to journalists as 'fake news'—is corrected.”[74]

Lara Trump, a consultant to the campaign and the daughter-in-law of the president, criticized this, saying, "Apparently, the mainstream media are champions of the First Amendment only when it serves their own political views. Faced with an ad that doesn’t fit their biased narrative, CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC have now all chosen to block our ad, this is an unprecedented act of censorship in America that should concern every freedom-loving citizen."[70][74][75]

Changes to campaign website

On May 8, shortly after reporter Cecilia Vega asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer about statements Trump's 2016 campaign had issued in regards to temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States, Trump's campaign website purged itself of all campaign statements from the 2016 campaign.[76][77][78][79][80]

Campaign chairman Michael Glassner later announced that the website was being redesigned and that, "the new website will present fact-based information about the president's policy positions and achievements since he took office."[79] Campaign officials stated that the redesigned website would, "provide a one-stop online destination to learn the facts about President Trump's actions that are enabling new economic growth and changing the American political landscape."[81]

After the deletion of press releases, a vulnerability in the website was exploited so that the URL (my plan to fuck the poor) led to a page about Trump's healthcare plan.[82][83]

It was pointed-out that the campaign's redesigned homepage featured a typo.[84]

The Washington Examiner's David Druckert pointed out on Twitter that the redesigned website featured an image of Trump with a uniformed military officer on its 'Donate' page. This, as was the case with the inclusion of McMaster in the campaign's first television advertisement, is against military regulations which strictly prohibit uniformed military officers from engaging in any political activity.[85]

Other developments

In early May Trump sent a letter thanking Paul Bielfeldt, a man who had mowed the message USA #1 2020 Trump Pence across 320 acres (1.3 km2) of farmland in Anchor, Illinois. The message is speculated to have set a world record for the largest campaign sign.[86]

On May 25 Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric along with Eric's wife Lara held a series of meetings at the Republican National Committee's (RNC) Washington, D.C. offices to outline campaign strategy. The trio spoke with RNC leadership (including chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and chief of staff Sara Armstrong), White House staffers, Trump campaign leaders such as Michael Glassner and digital vendor Brad Parscale, and members of the America First Policies political group (including Katie Walsh).[87][88][89]

June 2017[edit]

Pittsburgh Not Paris Rally
Counter-protesters at the Pittsburgh Not Paris Rally

On June 1 President Trump announced his plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement saying, "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris." Soon afterwards, the campaign announced it would hold a Pittsburgh Not Paris Rally across from the White House.[90][91] The rally was held June 3 at Lafayette Square.[90][92][93] The event was sponsored by the Fairfax County Republican Committee and the Republican Party of Virginia.[90][91][93][94][95][96] Relatively few people attended the event.[90][94] BuzzFeed and ABC both estimated that there were only 200 people (including counter-protesters) at the rally.[94][96] Buzzfeed as well as Business Insider described the number of supporters at the event as, "dozens",[94][95] this contrasted with the attendance of the anti-Trump March for Truth, which was held the same day and attracted crowds to demonstrations across the nation.[97]

Commenting on the event's location New York magazine's Jonathan Chait wrote that Lafayette Square, "is named for the Marquis de Lafayette, a French general who played a crucial role in helping the American Revolution. Lafayette is a symbol of French sympathy for the United States and its ideals. There is literally no stupider location in the entire world to stage an anti-French American rally."[90][92]

Campaigning in battleground states

In June Trump began campaigning in Iowa. Iowa is considered to be a perennial swing state,[98] the Iowa caucus is scheduled as the earliest presidential primary election.[99] Iowa has also been home to nonbinding straw polls held ahead of the primaries (Trump won the 2015 straw poll among Republican candidates).[100]

Trump in Iowa holding his fifth official rally of the campaign

The president had been scheduled to hold his fifth official campaign rally on June 1 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.[101][102] However, the rally was postponed due to, "an unforeseen change in President Trump's schedule."[101][102][103][104] Eric Branstad, a Trump administration official, said that the rally would be moved to mid-June.[101] Brandstad also said that the rally would coincide with a send-off for his father, Terry Branstad, who would be leaving to serve as Ambassador to China,[101] the rally was ultimately held on June 21.[105]

Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Iowa to attend Joni Ernst's 3rd Annual Roast and Ride fundraiser, held on June 3 at the Central Iowa Expo (near Boone, Iowa).[101][102][106][107] The previous editions of this event have included presidential campaign appearances. Trump himself had previously attended Ernst's fundraiser in 2016 while campaigning in Iowa; in 2015 seven Republican presidential contenders attended the event.[106]

The campaign visited other battleground states in June.

On June 4 Lara Trump spoke on behalf of the campaign, addressing a crowd of one thousand supporters at a luncheon held during the North Carolina Republican Party Convention. She stated, “The Trump campaign is still active and I’m proud to be part of it. We work every day alongside the RNC and we are like this. We’re making sure we have an incredibly strong party, that we’re geared up for 2018, that we’re geared up for 2020. And in case nobody looked around at the other side, they look pretty bad, guys, it does not look good for the DNC right now."[108][109]

June 7 President Trump delivered what the New York Daily News described as a, “campaign-style speech” in Cincinnati, Ohio.[110] Five days later, reports surfaced that Trump was making plans to embark on a more expansive tour that would visit several battleground states.[111]

Washington, D.C. fundraiser
The campaign will hold its first fundraiser at Trump's own hotel in Washington, D.C.

On June 28, the president is scheduled to host a fundraiser at his company's hotel in Washington, D.C. benefitting the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee that raises funds for both his reelection campaign and the RNC.[112][113][114][115][116][117][118] This will be the first event Trump has hosted for the Trump Victory Committee since becoming president,[112] as well as the first campaign fundraiser.[116][117][115][114] The event is being co-organized by RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and RNC National Finance Chairman Steve Wynn.[113][118] Guests are being asked to give $35,000 per-person, while host-committee members are being asked to give $100,000 per-person.[112][113][114][118]

The event informed its attendees that the money raised would be distributed as follows,

"Contributions from individuals (multicandidate PACs in parentheses) will be allocated sequentially according to the following formula: $2,700 ($5,000) to DJTP primary account; $2,700 ($5,000) to DJTP general account; $33,900 ($15,000) to the RNC's Operating account; $101,700 ($45,000) to the RNC's Headquarters account; $101,700 ($45,000) to the RNC's Convention account; and the remainder, up to $101,700 ($45,000), to the RNC's Legal Proceedings account."[118]
Other developments
Campaign supporter in June 2017

On June 5 the campaign sent its supporters an email taking aim at former Vice President Joe Biden, a speculated potential candidate for the Democratic nomination, the email exclaimed that, "Extreme leftists like Joe Biden will spend every waking minute over the next four years trying to tear down OUR President"[54]

Lara Trump has been scheduled to make appearances on behalf of the campaign at events in New York and Texas during the month of June.[108]

Campaign finances[edit]

While Donald Trump donated and loaned funds to his previous campaign during the Republican primaries, thus-far he has not donated any of his own money to his reelection campaign.[117] Instead, his reelection campaign has solely solicited donations.[117]

First quarter of 2017[edit]

By February 1, 2017, the campaign had already raised over $7 million.[16]

At the end of the first quarter of 2017, the campaign's three committees ("Donald J. Trump for President", "Trump Victory", and "Trump Make America Great Again Committee") reported raising a combined $13.2 million, the majority of which had come from small donors.[50] On April 15, The Wall Street Journal determined that the Trump campaign had reported spending more than $500,000 in payments to companies owned by Trump, amounting to 6% of the $6.5 million that the campaign reported spending. [119] Additionally, the campaign spent more than $4 million on memorabilia (such as hats).[4]

Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) ultimately raised a combined $55 million in the quarter. According to the National Review's Kelly Jane Torrance, Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee had raised roughly $16 million in the same period of Obama's first term.[4]

The Trump Make America Great Again joint fundraising committee (which sends 70% of contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign and 25% to the RNC) received contributions from Joseph Cayre and his son Jack Cayre.[120]

The Trump Victory joint fundraising committee received a $50,000 contribution from Eliot Tawil, a high-ranking employee of Jeff Sutton's Wharton Properties.[120][121][122] Trump Victory also received a sizable contribution from Consol Energy executive Craig Neal.[122]

Second quarter of 2017[edit]

On March 17, 2017 the campaign saw its highest single-day donation total, with the campaign and its joint-fundraising-committee raising a combined total of $314,000.[123][124]

Super PACs supporting Trump[edit]

Developments during the first quarter of 2017[edit]

The Great America PAC received donations from, among others, former NASCAR driver Walker Evans[127] and Insperity executive Jay Mincks.[128]

The Committee to Defend the President super PAC received contributions from, among others, Enterprise Products executive Ralph S. Cunningham.[129]

Center for Public Integrity analysis[edit]

The Center for Public Integrity published an analysis of first-quarter federal campaign spending records which revealed that two Super PACs supporting Trump, Great America PAC and Committee to Defend the President, had spent a combined $1.32 million on the 2020 election campaign.[2] Ted Harvey serves as the chairman of the Committee to Defend the President. Eric L. Beach and Ed Rollins serve as co-chairmen of Great America PAC.[2] Both PACs have previously been accused by the FEC of poorly maintaining financial records, and had been threatened with penalties.[2]

The Center for Public Integrity also found that several other pro-Trump PACs had already been founded in 2017, but most of them had yet to be very active. One such PAC was America First Action, which was founded by Charles Gantt. Gantt is the CEO of Red Curve Solutions, a political consulting firm for which Trump's 2020 campaign treasurer Bradley Crate is the senior vice president.[2]

Developments during the second quarter of 2017[edit]

On May 17, 2017 Mike Pence filed FEC paperwork to form Great America Committee, a PAC that would be headed by his former campaign staffers Nick Ayers and Marty Obst,[125][126] this is the first time in US history that a sitting vice president has founded such a political organization.[125]

Other groups supporting Trump[edit]

America First Policies[edit]

In late-January 2017 several members of Trump's 2016 campaign staff formed America First Policies, a pro-Trump political nonprofit, those involved included former deputy campaign chairs Rick Gates and David Bossie. Brad Parscale and Katrina Pierson were also involved. Additionally involved were Nick Ayers and Marty Obst, both of whom served as advisor's to Mike Pence during the 2016 campaign.[130] Trump's former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh has also joined the organization.[87]

Near the end of May, members of the organization (including Walsh) participated in meetings at the RNC's D.C. offices with members Trump's family to discuss campaign strategy.[87][88][89]

See also[edit]



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