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Donald Trump's campaign spending spiked in August, but it still looked frugal compared with recent nominees' spending ahead of the general election.
The Republican presidential nominee reported total disbursements of $29.9 million, up from $18.5 million in July, according to a Federal Election Commission report filed Tuesday. But it still fell well short of the nearly $50 million spent by his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Trump's campaign has proven remarkably lean in the free-spending world of American politics, even in the general election. It has spent little on television ads and maintains a thin payroll, even as the November election draws near.
Trump started August in a big polling hole against Clinton and clawed back to nearly a dead heat, even spending much less than Clinton. The consistent free media exposure for his often bizarre campaign likely helps.
Trump's campaign spent only $5.3 million on placed media in August, compared with about $33 million in media buys for Clinton's campaign. It reported payroll expenses of about $643,000, compared with $3.3 million for Clinton's committee. The Trump campaign spent more money on items like hats, signs and T-shirts than payroll.
Trump's biggest spending chunk of $11.1 million went to Giles-Parscale, which handles digital marketing and fundraising efforts.
Even with its spending increase to about $30 million in August, Trump's campaign has spent well below what general election candidates typically spend ahead of the election.
For comparison, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's campaigns spent about $84 million and $66 million in August 2012, respectively.
Obama and Sen. John McCain's campaigns reported disbursements of about $56 million and $48 million in August 2008.