Donald Trump at a campaign event.
Photo by Luke Sharrett—Bloomberg via Getty Images

After calling his rivals "puppets" of special interests

By Ian Mount
May 5, 2016

Donald Trump may be rich, but he’s apparently not that rich.

In a sharp about-face, Trump—who called Ted Cruz and John Kasich “puppets” of special interests for taking money from big donors—now says he won’t self-fund his presidential campaign and will instead raise outside money to take on the giant cashbox that is Hillary Clinton.

“I’ll be putting up money, but won’t be completely self-funding,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

It’s not entirely surprising that Trump might want some financial help with the expense of a national election. His campaign has claimed he’s got a net worth of $10 billion, while others say it’s more like $4.5 billion (and there’s evidence that he’s inflated his income claims). But no matter what it is, the cost of a presidential general election campaign—an estimated $1 billion—is enough to make any billionaire blanch.

Through the end of April, Democratic frontrunner Clinton had raised $213 million for her campaign and another $67 million has flowed into pro-Hillary Super PACs, the Journal reports. For his part, Trump has so far spent $47 million, of which $36 million were loans from his coffers and $11 million from small donors.

 

Of the small donors, Trump campaign national finance chair Steven Mnuchin, CEO of the Dune Capital Management hedge fund, told the Journal that, “Donald generated such broad-based support that we’re looking to tap into existing party members as well as the new people that have joined the party for him.”

But the big money will come from bigger donors and outside PACs. And in the world of Super PACs, one is already mobilizing to help elect Trump.

According to the Journal, in a Wednesday conference call with donors, Republican campaign advisor Ed Rollins said that the Super PAC where he was recently hired as co-chairman, Great America PAC, was going to be a major part of the campaign. “Usually a super PAC is frosting on a cake,” he said. “We’re going to be part of the cake.”

In the 2012 campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, each side spent more than $1 billion.

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