"We don't know if Donald Trump is willing to open his pocketbook," says former Romney deputy campaign manager Kate Packer, until he "demonstrates he's willing to actually spend significant dollars."
"Just because someone's rich," she told NBC, "doesn't mean they're completely liquid, and it also doesn't mean that they're willing to write a blank check to support their campaign. So we just don't know."
Packer is not working for any presidential candidate this cycle; colleagues at her consulting firm are working for GOP campaigns.
Other campaign veterans said Trump is currently competitive.
"Based on the amount he is spending," says former Romney CFO Bradley Crate, "I don't think he's spent much less than what other candidates did, who are trying to build out state operations as well."
Crate has not endorsed a campaign this cycle, while colleagues at his consulting firm are working for GOP campaigns, including Trump's.
The Trump campaign's expenditures reflect some conventional parts of retail campaigning, like travel, venues, and law firms, plus some less traditional spending.
For typical costs, the campaign spent over $160,000 on legal advice from the firm Jones Day; $30,000 for online fundraising from Piryx; over $37,000 for "strategy consulting" from Alan Cobb & Associates; $40,000 for South Carolina's ballot access fee and $7,500 for "policy consulting" from the JBC Research firm. Trump's campaign also spent over $51,000 on security services, including about $45,332 to 26 different security staff, and tens of thousands of dollars to a handful of consulting firms.
The campaign also spent a considerable amount on merchandise, devoting $504,192 to hats and t-shirts. That's roughly 12 percent of the campaign's total spending this quarter. Trump's red baseball cap, emblazoned with "Make America Great Again," is a fixture of the 2016 campaign, and it retails for $25 on Trump's website. (The camouflage edition is $30.)There are also a series of payments between the Trump campaign and various Trump entities, such as the Trump Corporation ($45,000 for rent), Trump Restaurants ($2,185), a Trump Hotel ($1,138), and "in kind" payments for items from Trump Tower, Trump Payroll Corporation and Donald J. Trump himself.
The breakdown of Trump's spending is also notable for what's missing: The campaign is not paying traditional pollsters or major strategists in Washington, D.C.