It was reported Tuesday afternoon that Donald Trump is to reserve general election television advertising after not spending a dollar on it.
Sources close to his campaign spoke to The Daily Caller about why Trump didn’t deploy TV ads early in the campaign.
Throughout the election Trump has run a rather barebones operation. The Republican nominee essentially had one member on his press staff throughout the primaries and currently heavily trails Hillary Clinton when it comes to staff numbers. This can be explained by his background as a businessman.
“Jeb Bush spent more than $40,000,000 in New Hampshire to come in 4 or 5, I spent $3,000,000 to come in 1st. Big difference in capability,” Trump tweeted out following his win in the New Hampshire primary.
“Trump is not a believer in paid television advertisement, he doesn’t believe it works. The evidence he cites is his nomination,” a longtime Trump confidant speaking on the condition of anonymity told TheDC. He added that Trump’s belief was that if millions of dollars was spent on negative advertising against him, he could just go on “Morning Joe.”
“Why should I pay for what I am getting for free,” is how the Trump source summed up the Republican nominee’s thinking.
However, Sam Nunberg, a former adviser to Trump, told TheDC, “It seems pretty consistent with Donald’s ethos that he said he is going to reserve for late.”
Nunberg said he “didn’t make much” of the lack of advertising on Trump’s part. The former adviser pointed to Hillary Clinton’s millions in advertising and said “you haven’t seen her numbers improve.”
According to a Tuesday Washington Post report on TV advertisement expenditures, Clinton’s campaign has spent $61 million on TV advertisements, Jill Stein has spent $189,000, Gary Johnson has spent $15,000, and Trump has spent $0.
Clinton is also leading Trump in outside group, PAC and Super PAC, spending on TV advertisements, $43 million to $12.4 million. Nunberg told TheDC that has hoped these outside groups would be giving Trump more support than they currently are.
These outside groups are though completely out of Trump’s control and according to a source close to Trump all of the TV advertising Trump did in the primary was completely in his control. The Trump confidant told TheDC that Trump “directed all the spots.”
“There was no polling, there was nothing to base a spot on other than his gut. He is his own ‘message-meister,’ he would dictate them to [Hope Hicks, Trump’s press secretary],” the source said. The advertisements would then be edited down but all true to Trump’s original script according to the source.
“I’m not worried that he’s not spending money on ads but I think it’s more along the lines of what message they’re trying to do and who they are trying to reach,” Nunberg said to TheDC. The former adviser believes that Trump’s advertising should reach out to black, Hispanic, and college-educated voters.
The Trump confidant said that he believes the candidate will continue to rely on free advertising via the form of news coverage and continue to keep staffing on the ground low. “This guy has heard the word ‘ground-game’ so many times he wants to puke the next time someone brings it up,” the source close to Trump said.
A July survey found that 46 percent of respondents believed they had seen a Trump advertisement.