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Trump pursues high spenders and presses for little donations through the hush money trial

Trump pursues high spenders and presses for little donations through the hush money trial
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he enters Manhattan Criminal Court for his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments on April 19, 2024 in New York City, U.S. Spencer Platt/Pool via REUTERS

In an attempt to lessen a significant fundraising gap against Democratic President Joe Biden, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is personally lobbying key backers and using his hush money trial to pressure his devoted army of little donations.

Since the trial in New York started with jury selection on Monday, his campaign has been sending out forceful fundraising calls to tiny contributors every day. These donors came together to support him when he was originally indicted in the case last year.

Emails last week included the phrase, “I could be locked up for life.” “I ought to be fighting for our nation and doing campaigns across America. Another said, “But instead, I’m stuck in Biden’s corrupt court AGAIN,” despite the fact that Trump is not being tried by the Biden administration but rather by the Manhattan district attorney in a New York state court.

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If found guilty, he may spend as much as four years in prison; however, many others who have been found guilty of the same act in the past have just received probation or penalties.

Early indicators point to the possibility that Trump’s base of modest donations is waning, which means he may need to depend more on large donors before his rematch with Biden on November 5.

The Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, the largest organization generating money for his campaign, revealed on Monday that it had received $33.6 million in the first quarter from contributors who contributed $200 or less.

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According to a Reuters analysis of reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission, that was roughly $17 million less than the sum gathered from small donations at the same point in the 2020 election season by Trump’s primary fundraising organization, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.

Small donors have always been important sources of funding for Trump’s presidential campaigns; in the week following his indictment in the New York case last year, they assisted Trump in raising $13 million in donations.

However, as additional cases have been charged, donations have decreased following the initial surge in funding that followed the early court appearances of last year.

After nine years of the former real estate mogul making almost daily advances for money, some “Trump fatigue” seems to have set in, according to Brandeis University politics professor Zachary Albert, who has researched small donors.

Albert remarked, “He’s been pretty unscrupulous in his appeals.” “The norm is to treat these small donors as cash cows that you squeeze as much as you can, as often as you can.”

Nevertheless, as the campaign looks to capitalize on supporters’ belief that Trump is being unfairly tried, Albert anticipates a spike in donations throughout the trial.

A request for information on the Trump campaign’s fundraising plan was not answered. Its financial report for the month of March is due on Saturday.

In February, Trump’s campaign claimed to have raised $10.9 million, significantly less than Biden’s $21.3 million.

GIFT CALLS AND LARGE FUNDRAISERS

about Biden’s financial edge and Trump’s mounting legal bills, Trump is becoming more and more concerned about getting large cheques.

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According to three sources briefed on the activities, the Republican nominee is ramping up donor gatherings, contacting potential donors who aren’t sure whether to donate, and using a fund-raising program that has combined with the Republican National Committee.

“He’s been incredibly successful in obtaining sizable checks and support from the donors I’ve needed him to speak with,” a Trump fundraiser who wished to remain anonymous to discuss private discussions said.

Trump has had fundraisers in Georgia and Florida throughout the past two weeks. According to one of the insiders, the campaign has settled for less money even though its goal is to generate at least $5 million from each event.

Trump’s campaign claimed that the April 6 fundraiser at hedge fund manager John Paulson’s Palm Beach home raised over $50 million. Among the notable co-hosts were investor Scott Bessent, casino mogul Phil Ruffin, hedge-fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, a conservative activist, and investor Robert Mercer.

However, several seasoned Republican contributors are still reluctant to support Trump, frequently pointing to his unpredictable nature or his supporters’ attack on the US Capitol building on January 6 as their primary concerns.

Many people told Reuters they are withholding their donations because they are worried that they would end up funding Trump’s skyrocketing legal bills.

Since the beginning of 2023, a Trump-run fundraising organization has paid more than $55 million in legal fees. Small donors have provided the majority of the political contributions used to cover Trump’s legal expenses thus far.

Another Republican contributor stated that while he was at ease supporting Trump once more, he first wanted to know the RNC’s plan for winning battleground states.

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According to a fundraiser, other donors had the opposite reaction to Trump’s legal issues—four criminal cases—and reached for their wallets.

George Glass, the retired businessman who served as Trump’s ambassador to Portugal, stated, “These trials are the catalyst of phone calls.”

According to a source, Trump traveled from New York to Florida this week to speak at a gathering of the Rockbridge Network, a small but powerful organization of conservative contributors, in an indication of how the trial is influencing his efforts to raise money.

Reporting by Jason Lange and Alexandra Ulmer Alistair Bell and Ross Colvin edited this.

 

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