Bernie Sanders-style, grassroots effort a
likely model, say Trump donors
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[June 10, 2016]
By Michelle Conlin
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Donald Trump's
presidential campaign is likely to launch a small donor fundraising
effort akin to the grassroots one that powered another insurgent
presidential contender, Democrat Bernie Sanders, according to two top
donors who attended the first official meeting of Trump's national
The Trump finance machine kickoff took place at New York City's
Four Seasons Hotel amid growing concerns about the Republican
presidential candidate's lack of a campaign infrastructure heading
into a Nov. 8 election battle against presumptive Democratic nominee
"The pitch to this group in the room was a traditional pitch, but
the backroom discussion was, because of this being a populist
movement, there's going to be significant outreach to, you know,
those who give $1, $2, $20," said Trump Texas fundraising
co-chairman Gaylord Hughey. "There's a huge opportunity there."
Sanders, who has effectively lost the 2016 presidential nomination
to Clinton, broke fundraising records during his long-shot bid for
the presidency, collecting more than $210 million through more than
7.4 million individual contributions, averaging $27 apiece.
Trump could well find his supporters eager to pitch in $1, $5 or
$20. For a story in May, Reuters found that nearly all three dozen
Trump supporters it interviewed were not only unmoved by Trump's
about-face to accept money from outside donors, they said they would
also happily contribute.
The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment about
replicating the fundraising apparatus of Sanders, a democratic
socialist U.S. senator from Vermont.
Some donors were fearful of the late start of Thursday's gathering.
Normally such a meeting would take place two years earlier in a
candidate's campaign. But others in attendance said they left
assured that Trump would be able to easily plug into the Republican
National Committee's robust infrastructure.
Trump, a wealthy businessman, became the presumptive Republican
nominee last month after seeing off 16 rivals in a largely
self-funded primary campaign.
The gathering featured talks by Trump, campaign manager Corey
Lewandowski, chief strategist Paul Manafort, Republican National
Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, former rival-turned-ally Governor
Chris Christie of New Jersey and Republican fundraisers Ray
Washburne and Lew Eisenberg.
[to top of second column]
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves as he departs
after speaking at a campaign event on the day several states held
presidential primaries, including California, at the Trump National
Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York, U.S., June 7,
2016 REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Trump's late start on fundraising has raised questions about whether
he can achieve his previously stated aim of raising $1 billion
before November. On the Democratic side, Clinton's well-oiled
operation is well ahead of schedule.
Trump is also pulling back from his earlier statements on his
fundraising goal. Campaign manager Lewandowski told Reuters on
Wednesday that he sees no need for Trump to raise that sum and that
Trump may be able to stick to his low-cost style of campaigning.
That includes garnering free media, which is estimated will reach a
value of $5 billion by November, according to media analytics firm
mediaQuant. That is more than double what Clinton is likely to get,
While Trump shot to the top of the Republican race with freewheeling
rhetoric, insults of rivals and promises to get tough on issues such
as illegal immigration, even his biggest donors say they are
discouraged by the candidate's attacks in recent weeks on a
In comments that have been widely condemned, Trump has suggested
that U.S. Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a case
against Trump University, has an inherent bias because of his
"He needs to stop the campaign infighting, shut up and stop calling
an American who was born in Indiana a Mexican," said Texas
billionaire Doug Deason.
(Editing by Howard Goller)
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