WASHINGTON >> Donald Trump’s campaign spent about $94 million in its final push for the White House, according to new fundraising reports filed Thursday.
The Republican continued his campaign-long trend of spending far less than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Her campaign blew through almost $132 million in its closing weeks, according to reports filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. The latest reports cover Oct. 20 through Nov. 28.
Over the course of the primary and general elections, the Trump campaign raised about $340 million. That included $66 million that the billionaire businessman contributed from his own pocket. The Clinton campaign, which maintained a longer and more concerted fundraising focus, brought in about $581 million.
Brad Parscale, Trump’s digital director who was empowered with spending decisions across the campaign, credited strategic last-minute investments with helping propel the political newcomer to victory.
Specifically, he told The Associated Press, the campaign and Republican Party spent about $5 million in get-out-the-vote digital advertising targeted in the final few days to Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. That proved critical; some of those states were won by razor-thin margins.
“You think, what if we hadn’t spent that?” Parscale said. “We might not have won.”
Another investment that he said paid dividends was $7 million to air a two-minute “closing” television commercial. “Our movement is about replacing the failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people,” he said as images from his rallies rolled across the screen.
The final FEC report showed the extent of the Trump advertising splurge. The campaign spent nearly $39 million on last-minute TV ads and another $29 million on digital advertising and consulting work done by Parscale’s firm.
Clinton’s campaign placed a far greater emphasis than Trump on television advertising, a more traditional way of reaching swaths of voters. She spent $72 million on TV ads and about $16 million on internet ads in the final weeks.
The former secretary of state also spent more than $12 million on travel — about double what Trump spent. Clinton, who not only had a money advantage over Trump but a staffing edge, spent more than $4 million on a nearly 900-strong payroll.
Still, Clinton’s top campaign aides have acknowledged in post-election appearances that it didn’t always spend money in the right places.
Her campaign manager Robby Mook said at a gathering of political strategists and journalists last week at Harvard University that he regretted not putting more staff in Michigan. When the state certified its results — 20 days after the election— Trump had won by just under 11,000 votes.
Outside groups that spent money on the presidential election also filed reports Thursday.
Trump got help from the super political action committees Future 45, Make America Number 1 and Rebuilding America Now.
Future 45 and a partner nonprofit that does not disclose donors spent late in the campaign but became Trump’s biggest outside investors. Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, together gave $10 million to Future 45 in the final weeks of the campaign, the new reports show.
Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon, who Trump named this week as head of the Small Business Administration, gave $1 million to the group in October. She’d earlier given $6 million to Rebuilding America Now.
Make America Number 1 benefited from a $1 million donation by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, now an executive on the Trump transition team.
On Clinton’s side, Priorities USA — which raised and spent more than any super PAC in history — landed $16 million in the final weeks of the campaign. That brought its total haul to about $192 million.
Some of the group’s final seven-figure contributions came from its most loyal donors: media mogul Haim Saban and investors James Simons and Donald Sussman.
The 2016 election is over — but the fundraising continues.
The president-elect has raised millions of dollars since Nov. 8. That money is coming in mostly through purchased merchandise such as hats and ornaments and is paying for Trump’s “thank you” tour, which took him to Ohio and Iowa on Thursday.
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