Clinton has big cash lead; Pence says message matters more

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s campaign is downplaying new federal filings that show Hillary Clinton with an $85 million cash advantage in the final stretch of the campaign. Trump’s message matters more than “dollars and cents,” running mate Mike Pence said Friday.

The latest fundraising records show Clinton’s campaign and joint accounts with Democrats had $153 million in the bank as of last week. That’s more than double the $68 million the Republican’s campaign and partnership committees had on hand.

Pence said Friday it’s up to Trump to decide if he wants to plunge more of his personal fortune into the campaign. The latest contribution reports, up to date as of Wednesday, show he had given only about $33,000 this month — far short of the $2 million he typically gives.

Clinton’s continued fundraising edge in the latest filings, which cover the first 19 days of the month, helps ensure the Democratic nominee can maintain her sprawling political operation in the frantic final days of the race. She maintains a staff of more than 800 — several times as large as Trump’s — and has spent more on advertising than the Republican has in every week of the race.

“We are being incredibly efficient with the dollars we have. We’re doing things smarter,” said Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie in a conference call with reporters.

He added, “I obviously want to see more on the air and with our communications, digitally and on television. That’s where we’re focusing on our final push.”

Still, Pence said on MSNBC that he senses “real momentum” in the Republican campaign.

“This week, I saw all the headlines: `The race is over. It’s over and done.’ That’s just not what I see out there,” Pence said.

The Indiana governor made the rounds on the morning shows Friday after his plane slid off the runway during a rainstorm at New York’s LaGuardia Airport late Thursday, tearing up concrete before coming to rest on a patch of grass. No one was injured and Pence planned to campaign in Pennsylvania and North Carolina on Friday.

Trump is holding events in New Hampshire, Iowa and Maine, one of two states that split their electoral voters by congressional district. Facing an increasingly narrow path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, his campaign is shooting for one of the traditionally Democratic state’s four electoral votes in the more rural, conservative 2nd District.

Clinton, meanwhile, plans to campaign in Iowa, where new polling shows her in a dead heat with Trump, erasing a lead he’s maintained for much of the race. Her campaign will also get a boost from President Barack Obama, whose national approval rating recently reached a new high. He’ll be holding an evening rally in Orlando, a key battleground area of the crucial swing state of Florida.

White House officials say Obama will be traveling to boost Clinton nearly every day until Election Day, Nov. 8.

Her campaign also released a new ad featuring the president saying that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to uphold his legacy. Obama says in the ad that “all the progress we’ve made these last eight years is on the ballot.”

The president’s appearance comes a day after Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama held a joint campaign rally in North Carolina.

At the raucous rally, Mrs. Obama passionately touted Clinton’s experience and denounced Trump as too divisive and thin-skinned for the White House.

“We want someone who is a unifying force in this country, someone who sees our differences not as a threat but as a blessing,” Mrs. Obama said as she addressed an enthusiastic, 11,000-person crowd in Winston-Salem, one of Clinton’s biggest gatherings of her campaign.

The Obama family’s public role in the campaign marks a sharp contrast from two years ago, when he was unpopular and Democrats winced when he occasionally said his policies were on the ballot in the midterms.


AP writers Julie Pace, Steve Peoples, Kathleen Hennessey, Will Weissert and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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