How the Biden Team Plans to Exploit Trump’s Big Cash Problem

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
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Welcome to Trail Mix, your 2024 election sanity guide. See something interesting on the trail? Email me at To get Trail Mix in your inbox, subscribe here for free.

This week, we dive into the Biden campaign’s most promising development thus far in 2024. Plus, fallout from Nikki Haley’s answer on the Alabama embryo ruling and exclusive polling on in vitro fertilization.


As Donald Trump’s unprecedented campaign cash crunch intensifies, an equally important development is quietly playing out with his opponent.

Heading into the general election President Joe Biden’s campaign is sitting on “historic” stacks of dough—putting him in the best position possible to exploit Trump’s cash woes early on in the general election season.

Donald Trump’s Cash Crunch Just Got Much, Much Worse

According to the latest federal campaign financial disclosure forms, Biden's campaign has $56 million on hand. Combined with the Democratic National Committee’s cash on hand, as well as that of other Biden-allied committees, there was $130 million behind the re-election effort at the end of January.

Trump, meanwhile, is attempting to run a national presidential campaign while besieged with criminal and civil trials—and is tapping into his political operation to pay for his defense.

In January, Trump’s campaign reported a net loss of $2.6 million, while his Save America leadership PAC raised only $8,508 and spent a whopping $3 million on lawyers alone.

Overall, Trump’s campaign has roughly $30 million in reserves. The allied Republican National Committee has just $8.7 million on hand, its lowest total in a decade.

Even though early polls show troubling signs for Biden in a rematch with Trump, the cash chasm between the two campaigns may be palpable through November. But the president’s campaign believes they have a prime opportunity right now to capitalize on the discrepancy and begin building a strategic campaign advantage.

“It’s historic. It’s the largest war chest for a Democrat in history, so in terms of a big deal, it’s a BFD,” a source close to the Biden campaign said, invoking Biden’s now-famous hot mic moment from when he was vice president.

Voter outreach and campaign ads are two key fronts the Biden team has identified as weaknesses for Trump, the source close to the Biden campaign said. They see their cash advantage as a way to start off the general election season strong and outlast Trump through a war of financial attrition.

“If you look at these filings, I don’t know if there’s any indication the Trump team is doing anything,” the source close to the Biden campaign said. “We are building state staff, we are doing paid media, we are doing brick and mortar, we are doing actual voter outreach—all of the fundamentals of a presidential campaign, none of which you can say Trump is doing.”

For Biden allies, the cash advantage is a much-needed, slow-burning morale boost.

The Biden Campaign’s Plan to Counter Trump’s Age Attacks

Jim Messina, Barack Obama's 2012 campaign manager, told The Daily Beast that “Team Biden is crushing it with fundraising.”

“Their war chest is unprecedented in the Democratic Party, and it’s fueled by grassroots support,” Messina said.“This is real money going to building a general election campaign. Trump is lighting his money fire for nothing that matters to voters.”

“It’s massive,” J.J. Abbott, a Democratic strategist in Pennsylvania, told The Daily Beast. “The money allows them to build and plan that infrastructure. And you have to pay people.”

The Trump campaign’s state-level staff hasn’t grown beyond an already lean operation in the early voting contests, while the Biden campaign is “adding layers” to their leadership and staff in key states, Abbott said, pointing to recent additions to the Biden team in his home state of Pennsylvania this week.

While the Biden campaign has big plans to maximize their cash advantage, how much it will ultimately alter the fundamentals of this race—a rematch between the two most-well known politicians in the country—remains to be seen.

Indeed, there are many serious concerns in Democratic circles about the president’s re-election effort, stemming from his age and cognitive ability and the resonance of his economic accomplishments to the threat of third-party candidates and persistently low enthusiasm for Biden even among Democrats.

Still, having the financial edge can make a serious difference at the margins in a race on track to be as close as those in 2016 and 2020, according to a half dozen Democrats and pollsters who spoke to The Daily Beast. If not a rallying cry for the base, the financial picture is at least a sign of the Biden campaign’s resilience and highlights one of Trump’s key weaknesses.

Tim Hogan, who served as Amy Klobuchar’s 2020 presidential campaign communications director, said the Biden campaign’s fundraising strength should assuage some voter concerns over the president’s viability in a rematch against Trump.

“Regardless of the campaign or the cycle, fundraising is a fundamental you look at to judge the health of a campaign. It’s one of those top metrics,” Hogan said, describing the cash advantage as “a big deal. Trump is also spending more than he’s raising, that’s another red flag.”

Biden’s experience in the Senate and on past presidential campaigns, along with the help of a fundraising team wired into the community of big-money liberal donors from New York to Los Angeles, have helped him gain an edge over Trump.

The president is also expected to pull in as much as $10 million alone from his West Coast fundraising swing this week, according to a source close to the Biden campaign with knowledge of the figures.


Biden takes a picture with a woman at CJ's Cafe in Los Angeles, California, on February 21, after holding fundraisers.


When asked by The Daily Beast, the Biden campaign would not reveal any future ad spending plans. But they hit the crucial battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania this week with a new 60-second digital ad hitting Trump for saying he would “encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to European countries who don’t spend enough on defense.

Still, pollsters cautioned how much a Biden spending blitz—on ads in particular—could shift the overall dynamic of the race, if only because voters already have such hardened attitudes about the current and former president.

The nature of the Biden-Trump rematch puts limitations on how much the polling picture could change, they said. Especially because both candidates have near-universal name I.D. and voters already know more about them than just about any other politicians.

John Ray, the director of polling at YouGov, also said that at this stage of the campaign, “we’re seeing that levels of engagement among the general public are still generally low.”

But a more checked-out public can be a silver lining for the Biden campaign when it comes to the ability to sway public opinion with effective ads, Ray said, giving them different options depending on the platform.

On Trump’s cash crunch, longtime Pennsylvania pollster Terry Madonna noted the former president’s continued strength with Republican small-dollar donors will still keep him competitive.

“I think ultimately, they’re both going to be able to raise sufficient money to run competitive campaigns,” Madonna said. “I don’t think money is going to determine the outcome of this election with Biden and Trump.”

Still, Hogan said, Trump’s financial issues will linger as an effective talking point for Democrats, even if the former president is able to run a competitive campaign.

The pitch is more, “Please Bail Me Out instead of Make America Great Again,” Hogan said. “Is it worth even contributing to this campaign?”

Abbott pointed to a more fundamental advantage the money gives Biden: the ability to actually execute a strategy.

“It just gets to a volume thing with Biden,” Abbott said. Biden has “more money, he has more sophistication, and he has more people doing” actual groundwork, the Pennsylvania strategist said.

How Dems Are Already Quashing a Nightmare RFK Jr. Scenario

“At the end of the day, this is going to come down to an existential choice and numbers,” Abbott continued. “If the Biden team has real people who can go talk to voters about the choice between him and Trump … that’s how you actually do it. Trump is trying to win it on the vibes.”

“He’s not on TV in any of these states, he’s not doing digital spending, he’s off the major social networks,” Abbott said of Trump. “It’s literally madness. He’s just doing Truth Social to himself. So it’s very indicative of having a guy who’s governed his entire life and knows what it takes to win campaigns, and then you have a guy who’s just a train wreck.”


Part of what made Nikki Haley the last Trump alternative standing in the 2024 Republican primary is her ability to talk about abortion in a way that could add, not subtract, from the GOP’s coalition.

Her careful skepticism of a federal abortion ban, and the tone of her comments on abortion, won praise from many pragmatic Republicans..

That history, then, explains why Haley’s response to the latest extreme abortion policy development was so baffling.

On Wednesday, Haley was asked by NBC News about the Alabama Supreme Court ruling this week that embryos created through in vitro fertilization are legally considered children—the first such ruling ever made by a U.S. court.

“Embryos, to me, are babies,” Haley said, recalling her experience conceiving her son Nalin through artificial insemination. “When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about, to me, that’s a life. And so I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that.”

Amid backlash, Haley took heat from reproductive health advocates who worried about what the ruling would mean for the future of IVF treatments as other Republican governors and politicians came out against the ruling, leaving Haley alone on the right fringe.

The next day, Haley was cleaning up the comments.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Haley said she did not support the Alabama court’s ruling despite personally believing a frozen embryo is a baby.

Baby Dreams Dashed by Alabama Court’s Nightmare IVF Ruling

“But I think the court was doing it based on the law, and I think Alabama needs to go back and look at the law,” Haley said, adding the issue is “incredibly personal to me, because I had both of my children with fertility.”

For Republican veterans of the presidential campaign trail who were sympathetic to Haley’s campaign, the whole episode was a jarring reminder of the limitations of her abilities as a candidate.

“Clearly it’s not a baby, baby,” a major Republican donor bundler told The Daily Beast. “I think she realized what she did afterwards. I think she answers with her heart, but she should have used her head yesterday.”

Another Republican, a former Trump administration official who considered backing Haley, said the moment was similar to another bad news cycle-driving moment in her campaign.

“It was reminiscent of the Civil War question in Berlin, New Hampshire,” the former Trump official said, recalling when Haley failed to mention slavery when asked by a voter what caused the war. “She just seemed far too guarded and far too conscientious about speaking to one audience, or just tired and ill prepared. But it just shows the vulnerabilities that she continues to have as a candidate.”

The Haley campaign did not return a request for comment.

Both GOP sources said that fatigue might have been the simplest explanation for Haley’s gaffe, the former Trump official indicated that more slips and missteps are inevitable so long as anti-abortion hardliners in the party continue pushing boundaries.

“These people have gotta stop,” they said of their fellow Republicans. “Republicans make a mistake if they answer any question on abortion. I think Republicans need to stop talking about it… It’s a big deal.”


Days before Alabama’s ruling came down, progressive polling outfit Navigator Research just so happened to be conducting an opinion survey asking Americans their opinions about reproductive health care.

For the first time, Navigator asked survey respondents their views about IVF. They shared the results exclusively with The Daily Beast.

The top lines were stark: 62 percent of all respondents surveyed agreed with the view that IVF should be easier to access, while just 7 percent said it should be harder to access.

Fifteen percent said access should remain the same, while another 15 percent said they did not know enough to answer the question.

The support for IVF also clearly cut across party lines: 72 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and 53 percent of Republicans all said they supported expanding access to the fertility treatment.

Even among Republicans who didn’t hold that position, opposition to IVF was still sparse: only 10 percent of Republicans indicated they did not want to expand IVF access.

The GOP Is About to See How Bad Abortion Is for Them in 2024

That fact jumped out to Bryan Bennett, a top pollster at Navigator. “The position that Nikki Haley said she agreed with, this decision in Alabama, seems extraordinarily out of step with where the country is on these issues,” he said, and “it’s even out of step with Republicans as well.”

“It’s rare to find a position that is this out of step with the American public,” Bennett said.

The survey, which was conducted online between Feb. 15-19 with 1,000 registered voters, also asked respondents if they supported or opposed expanding access to other forms of reproductive health care, such as birth control and the abortion pill.

Three-quarters of voters supported expanding access to birth control—including 64 percent of Republicans—while only 5 percent of all voters said it should be more difficult to access.

Just over half of all voters, 53 percent, supported expanding access to the abortion pill, while 23 percent wanted it to be more difficult to obtain.


Real Friends of New Jersey. At a Bernardsville, New Jersey, restaurant frequented by the likes of former Gov. Chris Christie, retired Giants quarterback Eli Manning and the state’s perhaps even more famous Real Housewives, Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Murphy posed for a photo which could find itself in an attack ad by the June 4 primary election.

In screenshots of the Instagram account belonging to Ristorante MV that were shared with The Daily Beast, Murphy and her husband, Gov. Phil Murphy, are seen grinning as they pose for a photo with none other than Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

murphys and ivanka/jared

Gov. Phil Murphy (center) and Tammy Murphy (third from right) pose with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Instagram screenshot/Ristorante MV

Although the picture was posted to the Ristorante MV Instagram Stories timeline on Feb. 11, it appears to have actually been taken back on July 6, 2023—the same day the governor signed a legislative package that could benefit the Kushner family’s development company.

In a different photo posted to the restaurant’s timeline on July 6, both Murphys appear to be wearing the same clothes they are in the photo with the Kushners that was posted months later.

Instagram screenshot/Ristorante MV

Earlier that same week in July 2023, the Kushner Companies announced plans to knock down a shopping mall in Eatontown, New Jersey, and replace it with the “Monmouth Square” development.

The plan includes not only a 40,000-square foot lease deal with Whole Foods, but also financing via a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) tax exemption allowing the company to pay significantly less in local taxes to the town government than they otherwise would.

Under the Assembly Bill 5644/Senate Bill 4023 package Murphy signed on July 6, changes to the Aspire Program will allow developers to secure more public financing for similar projects, giving the Kushner Companies a chance to gain substantial government assistance in future developments.

The former president’s daughter and son-in-law have hardly come near the 2024 Trump campaign and are largely shunning the public spotlight. The wealthy Kushner family, based in northern New Jersey, have deep political and business roots in the state; historically, they were Democrats.

Along with Rep. Andy Kim (D), Murphy is running for the seat held by scandal-plagued Sen. Bob Menendez (D), who has not announced his re-election plans.

During a Senate candidate debate on Monday, Murphy decried anyone who would work with Trump.

“Donald Trump is a real problem, and people who work with Donald Trump are also a real problem,” Murphy said, accusing Kim, a staunch critic of Trump, of working with the former president.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, Murphy spokesman Alex Altman reiterated their claims that Kim was soft on Trump while downplaying her photo with the Trump children who played an outsized role on the policy of his first term.

“Let's be clear, there is a stark difference between taking a photo with someone and not being a strong, effective leader who will stand up for New Jersey's families,” Altman said.

A representative for Kushner did not return a request for comment.

The Biden campaign’s favorite photo of Trump. Almost every time Trump’s face appears on the Biden campaign’s new TikTok account, the photos are from the same day.

Back in July 2022, Trump hosted a pro-amateur golf tournament at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, for the Saudi-financed LIV golf tour.

The photos from that tournament earned their sticking power well before the Biden campaign got on TikTok this month, particularly those showing Trump squinting and looking much paler than usual.

In just over two dozen posts since joining the app on Feb. 11, the Biden campaign has used photos of Trump from that one golf outing at least eight times, and the only other images of Trump they’ve included have been videos from interviews or rallies.


A segment of a Biden campaign TikTok video using the 2022 golf tournament photo of Trump.

TikTok screenshot

The Biden campaign favors the slideshow format on TikTok to show the windblown Trump looking tired and confused above negative headlines or his own quotes.

“He looks pretty bad,” a source close to the Biden campaign said of Trump


Spin cycle. Riley Rogerson reports on how Republicans in Congress have begun running out of ideas to actually campaign on as the economy improves.

Control, Schlapp, shred, delete. Roger Sollenberger reports exclusive details on the court subpoenas concerning conservative activist Matt Schlapp, including one looking into the alleged shredding of documents.

The gift of Gab. Jake Lahut reports on ex-Democrat Tulsi Gabbard’s MAGA makeover, including a curious upcoming fundraiser she’ll headline at Mar-a-Lago.

Berning bridges. Sam Brodey reports on a lawsuit against Republican Ohio Senate hopeful Bernie Moreno that reveals a dark side to the Trump-endorsed candidate’s self-made business success story.

Do it for the Gipper? Riley explores the death of the Reagan Republican on foreign policy in Trump’s GOP.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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