Joe Biden, speaking at a podium, with union members in the background
Joe Biden campaigning this week at the United Steelworkers headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania © REUTERS

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Good morning and welcome to US Election Countdown. Today we’ll be talking about:

  • Biden and Trump’s latest fundraising figures

  • The CNN chief executive’s approach to election coverage

  • What voters think of raising taxes on corporations and the rich

Joe Biden has extended his massive lead in the presidential money race as his cash pile keeps growing faster than Donald Trump’s.

Biden raised almost twice as much as Trump from January to the end of March, bringing in almost $166mn compared with roughly $90mn for pro-Trump groups, according to an FT analysis of federal campaign data [free to read].

The president has raised $368mn so far this election cycle, with $146mn in cash on hand at the end of March. Meanwhile, Trump has brought in $219mn so far (his groups have until this Saturday to provide additional numbers).

In another troubling sign for Republican fundraising efforts, Trump has 270,000 fewer unique donors than he did at the same stage of his 2020 White House run. His campaign and affiliated political action committees got money from 900,000 donors from July 2023 to the end of the first quarter of 2024, down from 1.17mn four years earlier, the FT found.

This shrinking donor base leaves questions about how Trump will sustain the costs of his legal battles on top of what is expected to be the most expensive presidential race in US history. The bottom line is he needs to step it up now when it comes to fundraising, especially while he’s stuck in court and off the campaign trail.

Money is critical for funding swing-state campaigning, including multimillion-dollar ad buys to blitz voters between now and election day.

But the first-quarter numbers don’t include the April fundraisers Trump held with Republican megadonors, who are key to filling his campaign war chest. His camp said an event hosted by hedge fund billionaire John Paulson raked in $50mn for Trump. At the end of March, Biden brought in more than $25mn at a fundraiser featuring former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Harold Hamm, a shale oil magnate who co-chaired Paulson’s event, told the FT’s Jamie Smyth that the $50mn showed Trump’s fundraising was in “very, very good shape”.

With the amount of money that he raised [at the Paulson fundraiser] doubling what Biden had raised even with the help of Obama and Clinton — I think that tells everything that you need to know.

Campaign clips: the latest election headlines

  • The US House of Representatives is headed for a vote on Ukraine and Israel aid this weekend, put forward by Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, a Trump ally, and endorsed by Biden. [Free to read]

  • However, some hardline Trump supporters in the chamber are not amused by the aid proposals, leaving Johnson facing a possible revolt.

  • Biden has called for tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium as he tries to shore up union support in the swing state of Pennsylvania.

  • We’re getting a window into New Yorkers’ unvarnished views of Trump as jury selection in his “hush money” case continues. 

  • US Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell said it was likely to take “longer than expected” to bring inflation down to the central bank’s 2 per cent target, which does not bode well for Biden.

Behind the scenes

Mark Thompson with the CNN logo
Mark Thompson: ‘We have to support the truth. We have to call out untruths, falsehoods, [and] lies’ © FT montage/Art Streiber

As news organisations figure out how best to cover Trump’s White House bid, leaders at CNN — which was the former president’s favourite media outlet to attack while in office — know they need to do better this election cycle than before.

CNN chief executive Mark Thompson told the FT’s Daniel Thomas and Anna Nicolaou that the broadcaster would take greater care to make tighter checks than in previous elections. But he conceded that this meant showing Trump “saying things about the 2020 election which I and CNN know not to be true”.

He did draw the line at putting commentators on the payroll who had backed up such false claims. Last month, NBC hired and then quickly fired former Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, a fiasco for the network that angered some of its biggest stars and raised questions over its leadership. “We have to support the truth. We have to call out untruths, falsehoods, [and] lies,” Thompson said.

But it’s also not that simple:

It’s complicated, because we do want to have a spread of voices and opinions. We have to keep you covered [about] the politics that are happening on planet Earth, not on some other planet where something nicer is happening.


Biden is wrapping up a three-day swing through the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where he’s been focusing on an economic message: Trump is for the rich, but I’m for the middle and working class.

Since he has struggled to convince voters that the economy is doing well under his presidency, he has instead been talking a lot about how unfair the tax code is (think about it, you probably haven’t heard him say “Bidenomics” in a while). He wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 per cent and require billionaires to pay at least 25 per cent. And it turns out voters agree.

More than 60 per cent of voters support Biden’s proposed tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, according to the latest FT-Michigan Ross poll.

“When I look at the economy, I don’t see it through the eyes of Mar-a-Lago. I see it through the eyes of Scranton”, Biden told a crowd in his hometown on Tuesday. “We grew up knowing in our homes that Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class.”

Mar-a-Lago and Scranton values are competing visions for the US economy, Biden went on to say, raising intrinsic questions of fairness not embodied by Trump and his wealthy friends.


  • As much of the menace is draining from the US-China relationship, Biden is exhibiting a polite Trumpism when it comes to Beijing, writes Ed Luce. 

  • Alan Beattie thinks the dollar would survive if Trump is re-elected and turns into an exchange rate and currency warrior.

  • US Republicans aren’t good at nationalism, says Janan Ganesh.

  • South Korea has a warning about locking up former leaders amid Trump’s trial. (Politico Magazine)

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