ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – “Trump needs you,” implored a fundraising email.
“The legacy of President Trump is in your hands,” pleaded another.
Others announced “Do you still miss me?” T-shirts with the smiley face of Donald Trump.
While some Republicans grapple with how fiercely they must embrace the former president, organizations charged with raising funds for the party go all out. 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 Republican Party hopes to regain control of at least one chamber of the Congress. Congress.
But there is a problem: Trump himself. In his first speech since leaving office, the former president encouraged loyalists to hit him directly, essentially bypassing the traditional groups that raise money for Republican candidates.
“There is only one way to contribute to our efforts to elect the Republican conservatives ‘America First’ and, in turn, 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 reluctant to ask for money in person. It amounts to the latest salvo in the battle to shape the future of the Republican Party, with Trump making it clear that he is not loyal to the party’s traditional fundraising operation as he tries to consolidate power.
That could help you add to a war chest you already dominate, contributing to your effort to influence the party. Save America has more than $ 80 million in 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 accounts with sitting members of Congress who have stood up to him. In his speech Sunday, Trump read aloud the names of all the Republicans who voted against him and called for his defeat. He has already endorsed a Republican challenger for Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who voted to impeach Trump over the unrest in the US Capitol.
“Trump’s call to give it directly shows that normal party organs … 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 the Trump campaign.
Bill Palatucci, a member of the New Jersey RNC, called Trump’s comments “unpleasant” and “counterproductive” and expressed concern that the Republican Party would suffer further losses, such as the Georgia Senate runoff elections in January, if they don’t work together.
Listen, it’s a free country. Anyone can form a federal PAC or a super PAC and there is always a lot of competition for dollars. But crossing the line there is to also tell people not to give to the important committees of the national party, ”Palatucci said. “There has to be a willingness on the part of the former president to look beyond his own interests.”
The RNC and spokespersons for the House and Senate campaign committees declined to comment. But others tried to play down the apparent tensions. They noted, for example, that Trump is scheduled to speak at the RNC’s spring donor retreat, a major fundraiser, in April in Palm Beach.
And Trump told party chair Ronna McDaniel in recent days that he wants to continue raising funds for the RNC, according to a person briefed on the conversation who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations.
Before making their money toss on Sunday, Trump’s team quietly updated their fundraising files. They turned their Save America leadership PAC into an entity that can also support other candidates, and turned their main Donald J. Trump campaign committee for president into Make America Great Again, or MAGAPac. The money raised through Trump’s website now goes to Save America JFC, a joint fundraising arrangement between the two.
While Trump left office a deeply unpopular figure, he remains a powerful draw to grassroots donors of small dollars, a reality that has been very clear in fundraising appeals over the past week.
Over the course of a single hour last Thursday, the RNC, both Republican Congressional campaign committees and the Republican State Leadership Committee, which seeks to elect Republicans to state office, criticized their supporters with urgent appeals to raise. funds that included urgent references to Trump.
And the Senate Republican National Committee this week warned that its “limited edition” Trump T-shirts were nearly sold out.
Regardless of Trump’s next move, the Republican Party 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, RSLC spokesman.