After a baffling summer where Hillary Clinton’s team was allowed to dominate advertising, the Trump campaign is finally making its first ad buy in swing states—and it’s tiny. Trump is spending $270,000 in Florida, $72,000 in Ohio, and $78,000 in Pennsylvania. By point of comparison, Clinton has already spent $23 million in Florida, $17 million in Ohio, and $6 million in Pennsylvania. So Trump’s spending splurge puts him at less than 1 percent of his rival (and that’s without counting states where Trump isn’t spending money at all).
In effect, Clinton is playing with dollars while Trump is playing with pennies. This tends to cast doubt not just on his claims to be a billionaire, but on the entire motive of his campaign. If Trump isn’t spending money on ads, what is he spending it on? Where are the donations going? And is he really trying to win, or just create more buzz for his brand, which he can perhaps spin off into a media empire after the election?