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Trump campaign is raising cash, but we'll see soon if it can spend it

Donald Trump's campaign says it has made up some ground in the fundraising race against Hillary Clinton, but new data this weekend will show whether the low-spending organization started to burn that cash more freely last month.

The July numbers due Saturday night to the Federal Election Commission will not show if Trump's recent self-inflicted wounds have hurt his latest fundraising or whether both campaigns have changed their spending in recent weeks, as Clinton settled into a comfortable polling advantage. But they will give insight into the candidates' vastly different spending habits as they headed into their parties' conventions.

Trump has relied on intense news coverage and social media to push his message throughout his campaign, largely shunning traditional advertising channels and some methods of voter outreach. Trump, who trails in crucial swing states in most recent polls, has only started to buy ad in battlegrounds. The July numbers may show spending well below what campaigns typically spend to reach voters at this stage in the race.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump
John Moore | Getty Images
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump

Both campaigns announced initial fundraising numbers earlier this month. Clinton's campaign said it raised nearly $90 million in joint efforts with the Democratic National Committee, with about $63 million going to the campaign. It said it had $58 million on hand at the start of August.

The Trump campaign said it and the Republican Party took in about $80 million, but it was unclear how much of that went to the Trump campaign itself. It said it had about $37 million on hand at the end of July.

What could remain striking in July is Trump's spending relative to Clinton's and past nominees. In June, the Trump campaign committee reported $7.8 million in disbursements. Clinton's campaign said it spent $34.5 million.

For perspective, in July 2012, Mitt Romney's campaign reported $32.7 million in disbursements. President Barack Obama's committee said it spent $58.9 million.

The Trump campaign's spending may not show a shift yet in July. But it could in the coming months as Trump tries to make up ground on Clinton before November's election.

Amid a campaign leadership overhaul this week, Trump trails Clinton by 6 percentage points in an average of recent polls that include Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and the Green Party's Jill Stein, according to RealClearPolitics. A recent string of abrasive comments from the billionaire developer could even threaten his cash streams. On Thursday, he said "regretted" some of the things he has said "in the heat of the debate" but he wasn't specific.

The Clinton campaign put up its first general election TV ads more than two months ago and has since spent more than $60 million on them. The Trump campaign's first ad buys this month in Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio cost about $4 million, according to NBC News.

In June, Trump reported just over $1.6 million in expenses for "digital consulting/online advertising."