Donald Trump’s nascent fund-raising efforts are flailing as traditional Republican donors flee their party’s presumptive nominee in hordes for fear of a backlash if they are seen to support him.
While the campaign is insisting that money “is pouring in”, there is evidence the opposite is true. It’s believed that an initial fund-raising goal for his current two-day swing in Texas had to be revised downwards after fewer donors than expected indicated any willingness to open their wallets.
Mr Trump is known to dislike intensely having to solicit money from party supporters, not least because it demolishes one of the main pillars of his primary campaign – that he does not take money from special interests and will be beholden to no one if elected president.
On the other hand, if he fails to ramp up his fund-raising machine soon, he will face sure disaster competing against Hillary Clinton, who, by contrast, has already raised $204m (£142m) from private donors and has set a goal of $1bn for her campaign. Just last week, she paid for more than 3,000 TV and radio spots eviscerating Mr Trump. He did not run a single ad against her.
Already, the fund-raising pressure on the candidate is forcing him to spend precious time in states that are already deeply red and will never be competitive in the general election. Texas is a prime example. While he also scheduled two rallies in Texas – the first at a honky tonk ballroom in Dallas on Thursday night – it is far from clear why he bothered, unless it is out of a belief that public events will continue to give him free national exposure as they did during the primary season.
Mica Mosbacher, an old-school Republican cheerleader in Houston and widow of a former Secretary of Commerce for former President George H. W. Bush, Robert Mosbacher, is leading the effort in Texas and has said she expects to raise as much as $4m for Mr Trump in the state. Whether they get anywhere near that amount remains to be seen, however.
“That would be a decent haul, but I am told that even that was revised down from their internal goal,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Texas Republican consultant and founder of the Potomac Strategy Group. It is his understanding that few of the usual Texas donors are playing with Mr Trump. “They are probably just getting people already supporting him or who are attracted to his celebrity,” he added, “but they are not getting the traditional Republican money they should be getting.”
Mr Trump’s problems include persuading headline supporters to form host committees for individual events, to draw in other interested donors. “At this point the nominee should really have almost all, if not all of the names, and he is not getting them,” Mr Mackowiak told The Independent.
Many have been turned off by the property tycoon’s response to the Orlando massacre when he doubled down on his anti-immigrant message as well as his recent claims that the judge in charge of a civil case against his now defunct Trump University is unfit because of his Mexican heritage.
Perhaps more potent however is the fear of public scorn, and harm to their businesses, if they are seen to be helping Mr Trump. That may be particularly so in Texas, with its very large Latino population that has been stung by the candidate’s anti-Mexican rhetoric.
This is not just anecdotal. When it emerged last week that Ray Washburne, owner of a beloved chain of Mexican restaurants in Dallas called Mi Cocina, had signed up to help raise money for Mr Trump, he was instantly assailed by calls for a boycott of all his eateries on social media.
Much of the opprobrium showed up on his Facebook page. “Customers the past 20 years or more. Absolutely deplorable that the owners of an incredible Mexican establishment would lend its support to Donald Trump,” wrote one former customer. “Will not return, ever.”
Mr Trump held one fundraiser at the Highland Hotel in Dallas on Thursday afternoon, which drew a throng of protestors on the street outside. The cost simply to walk through the door was $2,700 for adults and $500 for a “young professional”. Notably, however, one Republican activist posted a social media message that he could get people in for far less if they contacted him directly.
Other events were scheduled for Friday in Houston, hosted by Ms Mosbacher, and also in San Antonio, before Mr Trump’s departure on Saturday from the Lone Star state.
Controversy was meanwhile flaring around plans for an event on Saturday at the former Arizona home of Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican nominee remembered for inciting racial tensions and who lost that year’s general election by a landslide, after loud complaints from his widow.
“Ugh or yuck is my response,“ Susan Goldwater Levine told The Washington Post. ”I think Barry would be appalled that his home was being used for that purpose. Barry would be appalled by Mr Trump’s behaviour – the unintelligent and unfiltered and crude communications style. And he’s shallow – so, so shallow.”
The house in Paradise Valley, a wealthy enclave near Phoenix, was opened up to Mr Trump by its new owner, Robert Hobbs. “Barry was a good, solid Republican and was conservative,“ Mr Hobbs said. ”I’m not sure that Donald Trump is conservative, but he’s who our nominee is.”
The campaign, based at Trump Tower in New York, is refusing to offer details of its fund-raising progress, although more will emerge when it will be obliged to file a campaign finance report on 20 June. “There are no (fundraising) concerns whatsoever,” Hope Hicks, its main spokesperson, has commented. “The money is pouring in and Mr Trump has received tremendous support.”
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