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Trump Campaign Pushes Forward While Shutdown Drags On

One month since the start of the shutdown, the Trump 2020 campaign is chugging ahead with staffing and organization — and even fundraised off the paralyzed federal government. But the shutdown may yet prove to be a drag on the campaign and help set the tone for the race, depending on how long it endures and how it gets resolved.


The campaign’s internal efforts have carried on as normal, in contrast to the chaos of a “rudderless” White House, as it was described by one administration official.

The Trump campaign got an unusually early head start on its 2020 efforts; Trump filed his statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission the same day as he took office: January 20, 2017. Since then, a bare bones staff has been able to carry out consistent — and unmatched — levels of fundraising.

The political moment

While the daily logistical operations continue unimpeded, the political impact of the moment has been two-fold for the campaign: It’s galvanized supporters through online fundraising and has put one of Trump’s 2016 campaign promises — building a southern border wall — into focus.

The clever gimmick appeared to work. Parscale announced a “record first hour of donation and new donors since starting the re-elect.” The campaign did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on how many bricks were ordered.

More broadly, if Trump is able to come out of the showdown with a perceived “win,” it will certainly set the tone for his re-election campaign.

For Iowa Republicans, who will be crucial to Trump’s 2020 coalition, Kaufmann says it is imperative that Trump continue to follow through on his reputation of fulfilling his 2016 promises.

“If President Trump loses that reputation, I’ve got problems as a Republican chair with enthusiasm from Republicans. You must have money for that wall, so you’ve got to hang in there,” he said.

And those on the far right echo those sentiments; conservative commentators such as Ann Coulter have suggested Trump will lose the support of his base if he doesn’t build a wall on the southern border.

The poll found that independents are more apt to blame Trump (48% to 34%), and are most likely to say both sides are responsible (14%).

Travel on hold?

It remains to be seen whether the campaign’s travel schedule will be affected by the month-long shutdown, but so far, the President has largely refrained from travel.

The President wasn’t expected to have done any campaign-related travel yet in 2019, and it’s still unclear whether travel for fundraisers in the spring will be postponed if the shutdown continues. But the incumbent advantage of travel cannot be understated; when a sitting President travels for official White House business, it is undoubtedly beneficial to the campaign.

“We’d love to have him out here,” Kaufmann said. “I anticipate a very, very active campaign, I expect a lot of resources in Iowa. We are a swing state.”

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