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2024 Trump Challenger Goes Bankrupt?

About time to drop out of the race.

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s 2024 campaign is grappling with a significant financial challenge that could threaten its viability, as debt continues to mount.

According to NBC, the campaign is set to report a total fundraising amount of $3.3 million for the third quarter, with just $1.2 million in available cash and a debt load of $620,000. Pence himself contributed $150,000 from his personal funds to the campaign.

These financial figures paint a troubling picture for Pence’s campaign, putting it on a distinctly different financial path compared to his fellow contenders. They also cast doubt on his ability to remain competitive in the Republican primaries. Accumulating debt has traditionally been a red flag for presidential campaigns, often signaling their impending demise.

A comparison to a similar situation from eight years ago is worth noting. In 2015, then-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign reported having just under $1 million in the bank and $161,000 in debt at the end of the third quarter, equivalent to the current stage in the election cycle. Walker eventually dropped out of the race. Subsequent campaign finance reports revealed the rapid deterioration of his financial situation, with his campaign accumulating over $1.2 million in debt over the following three months. It took Walker a year to retire that debt.

In contrast, Pence’s financial position is notably weaker when compared to his Washington colleagues and rivals. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s campaign has reported a balance of $9.1 million for the 2024 primaries, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis claims to have $5 million in the bank. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, though spending heavily, began his 2024 campaign with a well-funded federal campaign account built up over years in the Senate. Former President Donald Trump’s campaign has indicated it has nearly $36 million available for the 2024 primaries. It’s essential to note that these figures are based on campaign announcements and will only be independently verified when the campaigns file reports with the Federal Election Commission, due by the end of Sunday.

Furthermore, a substantial portion of Pence’s $1.2 million is restricted for use only in the general election and cannot be spent during the primary season, as it was raised from donors who had already reached their maximum contribution limit for the primaries. It remains unclear how much of the third-quarter funds Pence raised is similarly unavailable for the primary season, as the campaign has not provided further details.

The state of Pence’s campaign finances is of particular concern as the deadline for the third Republican primary debate on November 8 approaches. To qualify, candidates must meet the Republican National Committee’s requirement of accumulating 70,000 individual donors. Pence narrowly met this threshold for the first debate just a few weeks before it took place. The campaign has not disclosed its current donor count or its status regarding the third debate criteria. However, the relatively low fundraising amount suggests that Pence may face a challenging path to qualify. Although he has met the polling threshold, he is currently in fifth place in the FiveThirtyEight national polls average and lags further behind in the Iowa polling average.

Pence has been emphasizing “traditional conservative values” and positioning himself as their champion, at times in contrast to his former running mate, Donald Trump. He frequently speaks about upholding his constitutional duty on January 6, 2021, when he certified the 2020 election results, despite pressure from Trump. Pence also advocates for a robust and engaged American role on the global stage, often criticizing Trump and others for their positions on issues such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and abortion policy.

While Pence’s commitment to Reagan-era principles might have been celebrated in the past, his polling numbers have stagnated, and his party appears to be moving in a different direction.