Can it be simultaneously true that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump swears off traditional campaign fundraising while still raking in a substantial sum of money from private contributions?
The answer appears to be a resounding yes: on Thursday, Trump's campaign announced that it raised $3.9 million between July and September this year.
The figure came as a surprise to some, given Trump's oft-expressed aversion to the kind of donor-courting in which other candidates engage.
He's frequently asserted that he will fund his campaign out of his own pocket. "I'm all self-funding. I don't need money. I have turned down millions, tens of millions of dollars from rich lobbyists and rich special interests that want to give me $5 million, $10 million, $2 million," he told "Face the Nation" during a sit-down last week. "I'm spending my own money and people respect it."
Still, he acknowledged during an earlier interview on "Face the Nation" in August, "We have lot of money coming in."
"A woman sends in $7.23 the other day," he recalled. "It was cute. She writes this beautiful little letter. That's what she had. But we have lot of small contributors. I would even take big contributors, as long as they don't expect anything, because the only people that can expect something from me is going to be the people that want to see our country be great again...I actually like the idea of investing in a campaign, but it has to be no strings attached."
So it's not entirely true that Trump is footing the bill for his entire campaign by himself, as the $3.9 fundraising total would suggest. But he has loaned his campaign a not-insignificant $1.9 million to date.
And it is true that he's not holding fundraisers, courting big donors, or going through any of the other motions that typically finance a major presidential campaign - though the big "Donate" button on the front page of his website shows that even a billionaire like Trump recognizes the value of outside donations.
According to Trump's campaign, the bulk of the money he raised during the third quarter came from unsolicited, small-dollar contributions.
"Mr. Trump is self-funding his campaign; however there were 73,942 unsolicited donations during this time period with an average contribution of $50.46," a release from his campaign explained on Thursday. "The Trump Campaign will continue to accept small dollar donations as people across the country proudly invest in Mr. Trump's vision to Make America Great Again."
For reference, here is a full rundown of each Republican candidate's third-quarter fundraising totals, from highest to lowest:
- Ben Carson: $20,767,267 ($31,409,509 year-to-date; includes $25,000 from Carson himself)
- Jeb Bush: $13.3 million
- Ted Cruz: $12,218,138 ($26,567,298 year-to-date)
- Scott Walker (dropped out September 18): $7,379,171
- Carly Fiorina: $6,788,986 ($8,493,688 year-to-date)
- Marco Rubio: $5,724,784 ($18 million year-to-date; includes $3.2 million transfer from Senate committee)
- John Kasich: $4.375 million (announced candidacy on July 21)
- Chris Christie: $4,208,984 (announced candidacy on June 30)
- Donald Trump: $3,926,512 ($5,828,922 year-to-date; includes $1,909,577 from Trump himself)
- Rand Paul: $2,438,018 ($7,763,828 year-to-date)
- Lindsey Graham: $1.052 million
- Bobby Jindal: $579,438 ($1,158,197 year-to-date)
- Rick Perry (dropped out September 11): $252,199 ($1,336,316 year-to-date)
- George Pataki: $153,514 ($409,309 year-to-date; includes $20,000 from Pataki himself)
- Jim Gilmore: $105,807 (announced candidacy July 30; includes a $43,000 loan from Gilmore himself)
- Mike Huckabee: TBA
- Rick Santorum: TBA