Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Trendsetter Engineering on November 2, 2023 in Houston, Texas
One event Donald Trump attended in Houston this week was hosted by shale magnate Harold Hamm, who chairs Continental Resources, and Occidental Petroleum chief Vicki Hollub © 2023 Getty Images

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

  • Trump’s oil bucks

  • Biden’s quest for North Carolina

  • The latest fundraising numbers

Donald Trump is drilling for oil money.

He spent yesterday in Texas hitting up oil barons for cash, as well as moguls operating in industries ranging from sports to cars, as he scrambles to narrow Joe Biden’s fundraising advantage [free to read].

The companies these oil magnates run have brought in record profits over the past few years (yes, including under Biden, despite the industry’s hostility towards him). But Trump knows the key to their hearts is through lax regulation. He pledged to get rid of a lot of Biden’s environmental and climate agenda to let them “drill, baby, drill”.

One event Trump attended in Houston was hosted by shale magnate Harold Hamm, who chairs Continental Resources, and Occidental Petroleum chief Vicki Hollub. Hilcorp’s Jeff Hildebrand and GeoSouthern Energy’s George Bishop hosted another gathering.

The host committee members for the Hildebrand event, which raised funds for causes including the Trump campaign and a group that pays the ex-president’s legal bills, ponied up $250,000 or $500,000 per couple. Attendees gave at least $10,000 per person, according to the invitation.

The FT’s Myles McCormick was on the ground in Texas:

At Houston’s five-star Post Oak hotel, owned by Houston Rockets owner and Trump supporter Tilman Fertitta, attendees on Wednesday were shuttled into a room decked out with blue drapes and US flags for lunch, photo ops and a roundtable with the former president.

Outside police officers and secret service turned away those who had not paid the ticket fee.

But not all oil executives are convinced by Trump — privately, some have voiced worries about his unpredictability and, more importantly, what his tariffs could do to oil demand.

“He’ll raise money here, for sure. Now, will it be as much as last time? I would be surprised if it was,” said one wealthy Texas oil donor who has donated to the Republican party but hasn’t given to Trump.

Next month, the ex-president will head to California for fundraisers hosted by the likes of billionaire tech entrepreneur Palmer Luckey and venture capitalist David Sacks.

Campaign clips: the latest election headlines

  • Nikki Haley has backed Trump, months after dropping out of the race to be the Republican presidential nominee [free to read].

  • US Federal Reserve officials were open to further interest rate increases to tame inflation, according to minutes from their latest meeting.

  • The district attorney in Trump’s Georgia criminal case, Fani Willis, easily won her primary, while the presiding judge won re-election. (NYT)

  • Trump’s campaign deleted a video shared by the candidate alluding to Germany’s Nazi era that said he would establish a “unified Reich”.

  • Trump’s “hush money” trial is in its end stages, with closing arguments set to begin on Tuesday. Trump’s defence rested without the ex-president taking the stand.

Behind the scenes

Democrats want North Carolina.

Though Barack Obama took the southern state in 2008, it hadn’t previously gone blue since 1976. Since Biden lost North Carolina by just 1.3 points in 2020, Democrats think the state is in play this time around.

With its 16 electoral votes, North Carolina is seen as a swing state in this election, and Democrats believe young, progressive voters are the key to flipping it to Biden’s column.

But with the environment at the forefront of their minds, young voters there don’t seem so convinced by the president.

“I don’t feel like we’ve done enough for climate change,” Cameron, a 19-year-old physiology student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, told the FT’s Aime Williams, warning that he was considering staying at home and not voting in November.

Biden and the Democratic operatives in the state now need to convince young North Carolinian voters that Biden has delivered on his climate agenda and that Trump would be worse for the planet.

But how realistic is a North Carolina victory? Trump is leading by 4.8 per cent in the state, according to RealClearPolitics. Democrats are spending money there, but it’s not their biggest battleground focus.

Democratic groups have committed $5.5mn to adverts in North Carolina, the lowest amount dedicated to any of the seven swing states, where total spending amounts to more than $140mn.

Look out for Aime’s full North Carolina dispatch, which will be published in the coming days.


For the first time this year, Trump last month raised more money than Biden, according to the Republican’s campaign.

Trump’s campaign said he raised $76mn in April. The news comes as Trump has been stuck in court for weeks and less active on the campaign trail. The result was thanks to the support of millions of small-dollar donors from every state across the country”, said press secretary Karoline Leavitt.

However, we know that Trump was expected to bring in $33mn from a single fundraiser in Florida last month, where guests paid upwards of $250,000 to attend.

The Biden camp said it brought in $51mn in its April money haul. While this may be less than Trump’s self-reported sum, we know the Biden campaign’s $192mn war chest still dwarfs Trump’s. It’s yet to be seen how much Trump will bring in via his new form of fundraising: he’s now accepting cryptocurrency payments.


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