Trump campaign says he raised $45.5 million in 3rd quarter, tripling DeSantis’ fundraisng

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign announced late Wednesday that he raised over $45.5 million in the third quarter, all while Trump’s legal battles continued to mount. 

Trump fundraising

The campaign said it has over $37.5 million cash on hand, almost all of it — about  $36 million — dedicated to the primary election. The numbers provided by the campaign cannot be verified until official Federal Election Commission reports are released. Since the money reported was raised by Trump’s joint fundraising committee, which is required to report semiannually, those figures won’t be released until January 2024. 

In August, Trump was indicted twice for alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election, first in a case stemming from special counsel Jack Smith’s probe, and then again two weeks later in a racketeering case over alleged efforts to overturn the results of the election in Fulton County, Georgia. Trump is facing a total of four indictments. 

Trump’s joint fundraising committee used his legal issues to sell merchandise featuring his mugshot after his arrest in Georgia and sent fundraising email blasts featuring developments in his court cases. Trump’s joint fundraising committee brings in money for both Trump’s official campaign and Save America PAC, his political action committee. 

After Trump’s social media accounts were reinstated on Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter, after his bans following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the former president has used the sites to boost his fundraising apparatus. The platforms allow the Trump campaign to reach millions of users outside of Trump’s Truth Social site and his email and text network. 

The Trump campaign also attributed the substantial haul in part to “overwhelming grassroots support.”

“Team Trump has outworked and outperformed every campaign, and that’s why we are honored to be supported by everyday Americans sick and tired of living in Crooked Joe Biden’s America,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement to CBS News. 

The latest fundraising numbers outpaced Trump’s second-quarter haul, which totaled more than $35 million, according to Trump’s joint fundraising committee, for the Trump campaign and his political action committee Save America.

DeSantis fundraising

Trump’s fundraising was triple that of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose campaign said Wednesday it raised $15 million between July and September. Donors gave to his campaign, an affiliated political action committee called the “Great American Comeback” and a joint fundraising committee dedicated to raising money for both entities. 

DeSantis’ campaign and affiliated committees entered October with a total of $15 million cash on hand, with nearly all of that ($13.5 million) in the coffers of the campaign itself. But due to federal limits on how much a donor can give for a primary and for a general election ($3,300 for both), only $5 million of that total cash on hand is eligible for use in the primary election, according to a campaign official.

“Not impressive,” one DeSantis fundraiser said of the $5 million figure for the primary campaign. “That’s the real number.”

But the campaign and other DeSantis fundraisers said the campaign is in better financial shape than it was at the end of last quarter. In the second quarter, DeSantis raised $20 million and spent $7.87 million — a burn rate that prompted a retooling of a “leaner, meaner” campaign operation and the shedding of nearly a third of his 90 campaign staffers.

Sources familiar with DeSantis’ campaign finances say that the campaign was “still in dire straits” after it posted second-quarter numbers and had “significantly” less cash available for use in the primary than it has now. 

The governor’s debate performances were cited by the sources as a highlight for fundraising. On the day after the first debate, “bundlers,” fundraisers who tap into a network of donors to give to their candidate, gathered in Milwaukee, where the first debate was held in August, and raised over $1 million. They followed up with a similar amount after the California debate in September, according to two bundlers. DeSantis also held numerous fundraising events in Texas and California to close out September.

“There was a surge right after the second debate,” said one of the post-debate bundlers. “I’m optimistic that there’s a lot of money on the table with these donors that have been sitting it out, and I’m glad that a lot of the money came in later in the quarter. I think we’re right where we want to be.” 

The Trump campaign mocked DeSantis’ smaller fundraising haul, calling it “a grave indication that Ron’s candidacy may not live to see the Iowa caucuses in January, or even the end of this month,” in a press release. 

Asked by a reporter Thursday in Tampa about the cash on hand gap between his campaign and Trump’s, DeSantis questioned where the former president would be spending his campaign cash.

“Where’s that money going to? Isn’t it going to a lot of lawyers?” DeSantis said, referencing the over $40 million in legal fees Trump’s “Save America PAC” paid in the first six months of 2023. 

DeSantis has consistently trailed Trump by double digits in national and early-state polls. Other candidates, such as former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, have cut into his polling numbers in states like New Hampshire and South Carolina. 

When pressed Thursday about whether he thinks he has the funding to stay in the race, DeSantis responded, “Of course… look at all these other candidates. We’re blowing them away.”

Other major campaigns have not yet released their fundraising numbers. 

DeSantis focuses on Iowa

DeSantis has made Iowa his primary focus. On Wednesday, nearly a third of DeSantis’ 52 campaign staffers were told that in the coming weeks they’d be moving to Iowa. A portion of his third-quarter fundraising haul will be used for this move. 

In messaging guidance obtained by CBS News that was sent to donors and surrogates on Wednesday, the DeSantis campaign wrote that the staffers will join over 25 who are already in Iowa from the DeSantis super-PAC “Never Back Down.”

“The relentless pace at which Ron DeSantis campaigned in Iowa during the last three months and the organization our allies at NBD have built made the former president understandably nervous about the Hawkeye State and forced him to upend the Trump campaign’s plan and re-engage in the state,” the campaign wrote.

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