Donald Trump

His campaign has developed the infrastructure to put up a real fight in the earliest primaries and beyond.


By Ben Schreckinger
10/16/15 – 08:23 PM EDT

Donald Trump’s eccentric presidential run is looking more like a standard campaign every day.

While his Republican rivals have been hoping that Trump’s candidacy would fade after the initial buzz died down, he remains in first in the polls even after coming down from his September peak. Meanwhile, his campaign has been building the infrastructure necessary to put up a real fight in the earliest primaries and beyond.

The latest evidence came in Thursday’s third-quarter FEC report, which showed a $3.9 million haul, mostly from small donors, and spending on many of the trappings of a typical presidential campaign: $40,000 on ballot access consulting, $7,500 on policy consulting and payments to a growing roster of staffers and consultants in early voting states.

The report also revealed more than $35,000 of spending on direct mail in Iowa and New Hampshire, $13,000 for bumper stickers and $6,000 in payments to a Virginia company for radio media placements for a campaign that so far has avoided making major ad buys.

The campaign had already lined up local heavyweights in South Carolina, where former state house majority leader James Merrill is state director, and in Iowa, where Chuck Laudner, a veteran of Mike Huckabee’s and Rick Santorum’s winning caucus campaigns, is state director. Merrill’s firm takes in $25,000 a month from the campaign, while Laudner’s firm takes in $15,000 a month.

In New Hampshire, where Trump was the first candidate to bring on paid staffers, the state headquarters in Manchester buzzes with the coming and going of volunteers. When Trump is not in town, his New Hampshire campaign continues its work, said veteran Republican strategist Dave Carney, who remains neutral and whose wife Lauren is Carly Fiorina’s New Hampshire state director.

“They’re doing what the average campaign is doing for sure. Maybe more,” said Carney.

In South Carolina, volunteers have been put to work setting up events, distributing bumper stickers and yard signs, and performing data entry.

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