Trump Cash Plea May Hurt GOP Efforts 03/03 06:21
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- "Trump needs you," one fundraising email implored.
"President Trump's Legacy is in your hands," another pleaded.
Others advertised "Miss Me Yet?" T-shirts featuring Donald Trump's smiling
While some Republicans grapple with how fiercely to embrace the former
president, the organizations charged with raising money for the party are going
all in. The Republican National Committee and the party's congressional
campaign arms are eager to cash in on Trump's lure with small donors ahead of
next year's midterm elections, when the GOP hopes to regain control of at least
one chamber of Congress.
But there's a problem: Trump himself. In his first speech since leaving
office, the former president encouraged loyalists to give directly to him,
essentially bypassing the traditional groups that raise money for GOP
"There's only one way to contribute to our efforts to elect 'America First'
Republican conservatives and, in turn, to make America great again," Trump said
Sunday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando,
Florida. "And that's through Save America PAC and donaldjtrump.com."
The comment was particularly notable because Trump is generally loath to ask
for money in person. It amounts to the latest salvo in the battle to shape the
future of the GOP, with Trump making clear that he holds no allegiance to the
party's traditional fundraising operation as he tries to consolidate power.
That could help him add to an already commanding war chest, aiding his
effort to influence the party. Save America has more than $80 million cash on
hand, including $3 million raised after the CPAC speech, according to a person
familiar with the total.
Some of that money could help Trump settle scores with incumbent members of
Congress who have crossed him. In his Sunday speech, Trump read aloud the names
of every Republican who voted against him and called for them to be defeated.
He's already endorsed a Republican challenger to GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of
Ohio, who voted to impeach him over the U.S. Capitol riot.
"Trump's call to give directly to him shows that the normal organs of the
party ... are going to have to fight for relevance in the 2022 cycle," said Dan
Eberhart, a longtime Republican donor who has given large sums to all three as
well as to Trump's campaign.
Bill Palatucci, a RNC member from New Jersey, called Trump's comments
"unwelcome" and "counterproductive" and voiced concern that the GOP would
suffer further losses, like Georgia' Senate runoff elections in January, if
they don't work together.
"Listen it's a free country. Anybody can form a federal PAC or a super PAC
and there's always lots of competition for dollars. But the crossing the line
there is then to also tell people to not give to the important committees of
the national party," said Palatucci. "There's got to be a willingness on the
former president to look beyond his own self-interest."
The RNC and spokespeople for the House and Senate campaign committees
declined to comment. But others sought to downplay the apparent tensions. They
noted, for instance, that Trump is scheduled to speak at the RNC's spring donor
retreat --- a major fundraising source --- in April in Palm Beach.
And Trump told the party's chair, Ronna McDaniel, in recent days that he
wants to continue fundraising for the RNC, according to a person briefed on the
conversation who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose
Before making his money pitch on Sunday, Trump's team quietly updated its
fundraising filings. They converted his Save America leadership PAC to an
entity that can also support other candidates, and turned his main Donald J.
Trump for President campaign committee into the Make America Great Again, or
MAGAPac. Money raised through Trump's website now goes to Save America JFC, a
joint fundraising agreement between the two.
While Trump left office as a deeply unpopular figure, he remains a powerful
draw for small-dollar, grassroots donors, a reality that has been abundantly
clear in fundraising appeals over the last week.
Over the course of a single hour last Thursday, the RNC, both GOP
congressional campaign committees and the Republican State Leadership
Committee, which tries to elect Republicans to state office, blasted supporters
with urgent fundraising appeals that included urgent references to Trump.
And the National Republican Senatorial Committee warned this week that its
"limited edition" T-shirts featuring Trump were almost sold out.
Regardless of Trump's next move, the GOP is unlikely to remove him from its
sales pitch anytime soon.
"Our digital fundraising strategy is simple: raise as much money as
possible," said Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for the RSLC.
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