Trump’s Ohio campaign missing in action

Trump’s Ohio campaign missing in action
Photo: CNN

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - When Donald Trump comes to Cleveland in July to claim the Republican nomination for president, he will be doing so with little structural support or the blessing of Gov. John Kasich, and more importantly — anything resembling a robust Rust Belt campaign.

There are no Trump staffers in Ohio according to multiple sources in the Ohio Republican Party, including Fred Brown, the communications director for the Ohio Victory Project. There's also little evidence of any coordinated volunteer force in the Buckeye State.

There are grassroots efforts in Hamilton County and student efforts on campuses like the University of Cincinnati and Miami University. However, it is difficult to measure how much, if any, support these groups are getting from the official campaign.

The Trump train has been a runaway success in the primaries, capturing the imagination of the Republican base. He received the more votes than any Republican primary candidate in history while spending far less than any major contender on either side of the aisle.

However, despite a stellar primary performance, vanquishing establishment juggernauts like Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) and Jeb Bush with a low-cost operation, the slim campaign structure may build a steep uphill battle in the general election.

Hope Hicks plays a major role in Donald Trump's inner circle as his national communications director. When Fox19 NOW reached out to her to seek a point of contact for Ohio, she said she is assuming that role. It is unclear if she is micromanaging any other states or if she is delegating responsibilities to anyone in the Buckeye State.

Hicks did not respond our request for comment on if the Trump campaign is ramping up hiring for Ohio staffers.

According to the Associated Press, Trump has about 30 staffer on payroll, none of them are operating in Ohio.

There are about 500 staffers in the Republican National Committee dedicated to defeating Hillary Clinton and securing the party's hold in both chambers of congress.

According to Fred Brown, the communications director for the Ohio Victory Project, about 50 of those staffers are in Ohio. However, it is unclear how much coordination is going on between those staffers and the Trump campaign.

Beyond any state management, after the firing of Corey Lewandowski — Donald Trump does not have a national campaign manager.

In comparison, the Democratic National Committee has about 150 staffers in Ohio working to elect their party's presidential nominee and secure victories in other elections throughout the state. Leading up to the convention, the DNC is zeroing-in on voter registration.

In addition to the DNC, Clinton has about 900 staffers nationwide with dozens of them operating in Ohio.

Hillary Clinton's campaign and Super PACs like Priorities USA have dumped millions of dollars into advertising in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, and have reserved TV slots going through November. Right now, there are no TV ad reservations for Donald Trump.

However, there's not a lot of evidence the lack of a ground game or advertisement is hurting Trump in Ohio with most polls showing a virtual tie between Clinton and Trump.

On Monday, the Trump campaign's FEC filings were released and the numbers suggest the popular billionaire might be having money issues. As of May 31, the Trump campaign has $1.3 million cash on hand. In comparison, Hillary Clinton has a $42.5 million war chest.

What highlights the shallow campaign funds as troubling for the presumptive GOP nominee is some of his primary rivals who left the race have more cash.

Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), who exited the race May 3 came out of the end of the reporting period with $6.8 million, a nearly five times greater bounty than Trump's. Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson dropped out in March and reported to having $1.7 million.

Bernie Sanders, who has virtually no chance of winning the Democratic nomination, but is still in the race, went into June with $9.2 million cash on hand.

A representative of the Butler County Republicans said he gets calls "all day, everyday" with people asking for Trump yard signs and bumper stickers to show off their support. However, there's no word of the campaign offering logistics like that on the county level.

The narrow cash flow and a barebones staff certainly does not spell doom for Trump. The real-estate mogul has proven his unconventional approach can garner success, and his insurgent campaign is undoubtedly different than the traditional approach the Clinton camp is seemingly taking. But it can raise eyebrows when there is no visible effort to compete in the Buckeye State.

Ohio is a swing state, marking it a sought after prize with 16 electoral votes for grabs. The Buckeye State has voted for the winning candidate in every election since 1964. While Hillary Clinton's staff has a well-oiled ground game with dozens of staffers all over the state, Trump's campaign is missing in action.

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