Trump tears into Biden and Harris, but says may have to use own money in reelection
President Donald Trump savaged his Democratic opponent Joe Biden on Tuesday at the start of a tour of swing states, but seemed to concede that his reelection campaign is running out of donors, requiring him to dip into his own pocket.
"If I have to, I will," Trump told reporters when asked about spending his own cash. "Whatever it takes. We have to win."
Trump was on form at a rally with supporters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which he visited immediately after a speech in Florida -- two of the battleground states he almost certainly has to win to beat Biden on November 3.
Regaling the cheering crowd with his trademark mix of jokes, insults and over-the-top boasts, Trump said Biden would bring "violent mobs" and an economic "depression the likes of which you haven't seen."
He reserved especially acid remarks for Biden's running mate Kamala Harris, a veteran California prosecutor and US senator now bidding to become the first black vice president -- and later the likely Democratic frontrunner to become America's first woman president.
"You know what, people don't like her. Nobody likes her," said Trump, who also pointedly mispronounced Harris' first name, a gesture common on the right and widely interpreted as a way of demonstrating disrespect. "She could never be the first woman president. That would be an insult to our country," he said.
On Thursday he heads to another swing state, Michigan, and on the weekend goes to Nevada. Friday, Trump and Biden will both be in Pennsylvania -- yet another electoral battleground -- for 9/11 commemorations at the Flight 93 National Memorial, in Shanksville.
It was not clear whether they might declare a brief truce and appear jointly at the ceremony remembering the passengers who died after attacking their hijackers on September 11, 2001, sending the doomed plane into a field.
Biden, who was already in Pennsylvania on Labor Day Monday, will also be in Michigan on Wednesday.
Donor enthusiasm gone?
But despite his bullish attitude, the financial difficulties facing the campaign show that Trump has a tricky path to a second term.
Trump has effectively been campaigning for a second term throughout his administration, filing the paperwork for a run the same day as his 2017 inauguration.
Since the start of 2019, his campaign has spent some $800 million, more than twice as much as that of Biden.
But despite that head start and the campaign's boastful descriptions of itself as a "juggernaut," the Trump train is reportedly hitting a funding wall.
Biden, who began his quest for the White House with a slow, poorly funded effort, surprised many by overtaking Trump in the fundraising stakes this August with a $365 million haul -- shattering previous monthly records.
Now Trump will find the bills piling up as he accelerates travel, voter outreach and -- above all -- expensive television ad efforts ahead of November 3.
A New York Times article published Monday homed in on profligate spending under then campaign manager Brad Parscale, particularly two ads aired during the Super Bowl with a reported price tag of $11 million.
On Twitter, Trump said any financial woes were the fault of the media, because he'd been "forced to spend in order to counter the Fake News."
Bad news cycle
For his entire first term, Trump has become used to dominating the news cycle, but as election day approaches, the Republican showman's grip on the script is slipping.
Covid-19 has ended his favourite platform of large rallies in noisy arenas and his seemingly killer instinct for defining opponents with a single catchy nickname is proving ineffective in the case of the man he dubs "sleepy Joe."
The last week has seen Trump endure a torrent of negative headlines.
An article in The Atlantic quoting anonymous sources accusing Trump of repeatedly disparaging military members killed in war as "losers" and "suckers" continues to roil the White House, despite its strenuous attempts to discredit the story.
Those allegations are now joined by lurid claims made by his disgraced former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen, whose book "Disloyal" is the latest in a long line of angry tell-alls by former Trump insiders.