WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) — President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said he anticipates Trump's re-election bid will cost at least $1 billion.
"I definitely think we're looking at a billion-dollar operation, minimum," Parscale said in a Wednesday interview with "America This Week" host Eric Bolling.
The digital strategy alone could consume up to half of the budget, Parscale added. He estimates they have already spent $30 million on digital advertising and strategies to date. That figure will easily top $100 million by election day, he said and may be closer to $400 or $500 million.
"Previous campaigns, previous to Donald Trump's 2016 run, 10-15 percent was spent on digital. We just crushed that, spending nearly 50 percent on digital," Parscale said of the last campaign.
Parscale signaled that Trump's 2020 strategy will borrow from his 2016 playbook and focus heavily on its digital presence.
Parscale, who ran Trump's 2016 data operation, said Trump 2020 is "running one of the largest prospecting campaigns in political history," targeting possible donors and shoring up new voters. "It's cheaper now to get a voter now than it is later."
The 2020 strategy will also focus on "expanding the map." According to Parscale, there are 16 or 17 battleground states that are potentially up for grabs. In the last election, there were about 10 or 11 battlegrounds.
"Right now the main thing to do is build out the infrastructure that's ready to support, across the country, new battlegrounds," he said.
Relying on complex voter data sets, algorithms and machine learning, Parscale and his team identified both Michigan and Wisconsin as winnable battleground states in 2016 and saw the trend of the "lost voter" who came out to vote for Trump after years of avoiding politics.
Despite reports that the Trump campaign is struggling to find talent, Parscale claimed the 2020 campaign is "fully running" and has nearly all the executive staff positions filled.
The campaign has set a goal of raising $1 billion from small donors and others. In the first quarter of 2019, the Trump campaign raised more than $30 million and it has $40.8 million cash on hand. Trump's war chest is substantially larger than any of the Democratic candidates who are competing for cash in a crowded field.
The Trump campaign raised a total of $334.8 million in 2016, not including money from the Republican National Party and Super PACs, according to Federal Election Commission data. Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign raised $623.1 million, also not including party or SuperPAC money.
IMPEACHMENT AND RUSSIAN MEDDLING
The release of the Mueller report has fueled calls from some congressional Democrats to impeach President Trump before 2020. As a tactic to take down President Trump, Parscale expects it will backfire.
"First of all, I think the Democrats are clearly, you know, over their skis on this," he said of impeachment. "Could it help fundraising?... Well, of course it does. When the Democrats go out in left field where they like to be, it does things."
He continued, "But I don't think there's any harm [that] would come. I think the president is in a clear shot right now to win 2020."
Parscale also addressed whether the Trump campaign would accept help from Russia in next year's election, a question posed to White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley earlier this week.
"It's a joke," Parscale stated. "There was never any help from the Russians."
Parscale defended Trump's win as a matter of strategy, arguing the Trump campaign pushed out more online ads than the Russians or Hillary Clinton combined.
"What we were spending per minute is what they spent in the entire election," Parscale said. "Hillary Clinton made 66,000 ads, I think the Russians made 3,500 ads. We made 5.9 million ads...It's not even the same ballpark."
According to the Mueller report, the Russian Internet Research Agency spent $200,000 to release about 3,500 Facebook ads. Facebook estimated the ads reached at least 146 million people.
At the end of the day, Parscale signaled that he would like to "move on" from the matters raised by the special counsel into an investigation of how the Trump-Russia probe got started.
The campaign manager lashed out at "the liars that perpetrated" the Trump-Russia scandal, stating, "I have no problem with us going after that and I believe Congress should go after that."
Attorney General William Barr has said he is looking into the "origins" of the Russia investigation and the Justice Department inspector general will soon have a report on alleged government surveillance abuse against the Trump campaign.
Bolling also sat down with Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for an extensive interview Wednesday. "America This Week" streams every Wednesday across all Sinclair sites at 7 p.m. EDT/ 4 p.m. PDT.