A number of President Trump's recent appearances around the country have been described as "campaign rallies." (Police use tear gas..., Trump, on Long Island,..., Trump threatens shutdown...) Though, notably, the phrases "campaign-style rally" and "de facto campaign rally" often appear, too.

President Trump is already a formal candidate for 2020 (FEC filing), and has been since January 20, 2016. This is unusually early: Barack Obama filed on April 5, 2011 to run in 2012; George W. Bush filed on May 17, 2003 to run in 2004; Bill Clinton filed on April 15, 1995 to run in 1996 (source, because I couldn't parse all the FEC paperwork for those three). So it raises the question:

When a(ny) president does become a candidate who pays for the rallies? I'd have naively assumed that "the taxpayer" pays for things like Air Force 1 and secret service, but who pays for a venue and vendors?

(Just to be clear, this isn't really a Trump-specific thing, just the prevalence of his rallies had me wondering. And it seems an opportune time to ask, as he's basically maximized how long a presidential campaign can last.)

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1 Answer 1


According to this cheatsheet.com article the rally is paid out of the some 7.6 million left in the 2016 campaign funds as well as any contributions to the 2020 re-election campaign.

What taxpayers absorb is:

  1. Costs of local police and emergency services.
  2. Costs of Street closures, traffic control and loss of business income (although it's unclear if a business just absorbs the cost of lost business or if then can seek some compensation from the city).
  3. Secret Service.
  4. Hospitality Costs - (hotels meals transportation etc).
  5. Clean-up after event.

Apparently the cost of the venue and associated expenses (printing posters for example) are paid for by the re-election campaign.

As to the costs of AF-1 (at ~$200,000/hour) the campaign pays a proportionate part of the cost as some of the expenses "For example, a significant portion of Air Force One may be occupied by personnel and equipment mandated by national-security requirements and other needs associated with the office of the President, not the campaign." from this NPR article.

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