Campaigns Gear Up for July Conventions

Campaigns Gear Up for July Conventions
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
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The presidential campaigns this week enter a phase when they must balance new political developments with administrative priorities three weeks ahead of the party conventions.

The candidates will likely focus on digesting the implications of the United Kingdom’s vote to withdraw from the European Union for their respective audiences while making the logistical preparations for the conventions and the fall campaign.

For now, the candidates’ schedules are thin, as the campaigns will likely focus on fundraising, vetting vice presidential candidates, hiring additional staff, and planning programming for the conventions. This week, both candidates could have key moments.

Hillary Clinton will campaign with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Cincinnati on Monday morning, part of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s showcasing of party talent and possible vice presidential contenders. It will be Warren’s first joint campaign appearance with Clinton, and her populist messages on the economy could have even more resonance among the party base, given the fallout of the U.K. vote, which strikes at some similar economic themes.

The Clinton campaign released a television ad hitting Trump for praising his new golf course in the wake of the market-rattling vote and shrugging off the devaluation of the pound as a good thing for his resorts in Scotland. “Every president is tested by world events, but Donald Trump thinks about how his golf resort can profit from them," says the ad’s narrator. "In a volatile world, the last thing we need is a volatile president."

Meanwhile, two new polls released Sunday found Clinton opening up a lead over Trump in the past month, though by varying degrees. A Washington Post/ABC News survey found the Democrat with a 12-percentage point lead (she trailed by two points in May) while a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Clinton ahead by five points (she led by three points in May).

Clinton will leave Cincinnati for Denver on Tuesday to tour a training facility for entrepreneurs and startups. Also on Tuesday, Trump will give a policy speech in western Pennsylvania on trade and "declaring American economic independence." He is returning from a trip to Scotland with potential momentum from current events. The presumptive GOP nominee drew parallels between the U.K.’s decision to break from the EU -- which he originally backed and called “a great thing” -- to his own themes in the election, including angst over immigration, globalization, and the economy, as well as foreign policy decisions that affect those issues, and the perceived disconnect between political leaders and the voters.

“Those are the same issues that cause the angst in America today,” said Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on “Meet the Press.” “And this election, in 2016, where Donald Trump is the only change agent, is set up perfectly on those same themes, because Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the establishment.”

Trump drew some ire for his trip abroad, which occurred at the same time as the U.K. vote only coincidentally, as he was there to promote his newly renovated golf resort and did not meet with any foreign leaders or officials, as is typical for a presidential campaign. Yet, the messages from across the pond were welcomed by his campaign. This all comes as Trump’s campaign is in the middle of a significant reshuffling, having fired manager Corey Lewandowski last week amid controversies and poor fundraising numbers.

The presumptive nominee sought to turn a page on the campaign last week with a speech criticizing Clinton, but it remains to be seen whether the “on message” version of the candidate will survive. One key test of whether Trump has altered his tune will come at the next rally, which won’t likely include teleprompters or prepared speeches.

“Our campaign frankly is getting organized,” Manafort said. “But we are fully now integrated with the Republican National Committee. This week we'll be making some major announcements of people who are taking over in major positions in our national campaign as well as in our state campaigns.” Manafort also said additional announcements will be made this week about the campaign’s organization in key battleground states.

The Republican’s campaign is also preparing for the convention, where Trump has said he will announce his running mate. The mystery surrounding the choice has been more about who would agree to run with him than about whom he might choose. Ex-campaign manager Lewandowski told CNN that Trump has narrowed his list to four.

The Clinton team meanwhile is busy vetting potential running mates, including Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, and Warren. Thus far the campaign has dropped no hints as to when she will announce who’s joining her on the ticket.

Before campaigning with Warren on Monday, Clinton was scheduled to attend a fundraiser with the Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley Sunday night. The campaign also announced a joint fundraiser with the DNC scheduled for July that will feature a special performance of the blockbuster Broadway play “Hamilton.” Next month, Clinton is scheduled to address the League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington.

Fundraising has become a top priority for the Trump campaign and for the Republican National Committee. The chief strategist for the RNC, Sean Spicer, said on Twitter that the joint effort has raised $5 million online so far. Trump’s campaign has started to ramp up digital grassroots fundraising, an endeavor that many critics say should have been done much earlier to avoid the struggles it is now experiencing. The campaign’s recent filings reported just over $1 million in cash, raising questions about the candidate’s ability to run an organization befitting the presidency.

In a notable move, Trump announced that he had forgiven $50 million in personal loans to the campaign, meaning contributions by donors will directly pay for the campaign, and will not be used to repay the candidate. The move was a signal to donors reluctant to invest in a candidate who had not fully invested in himself. New fundraising efforts, including the absolution of the loans, won’t be confirmed until July 20, the next filing deadline.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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