Most Americans are still flabbergasted by the attraction of many to Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. How can so many of our neighbors be deceived? There are factors like racism, bigotry and xenophobia but some of our neighbors still like Trump and do not display any of those hatful traits. What is the magnet that is drawing them?
As reporters randomly question the crowds at Trump events trying to ascertain what motivates their attraction the number one answer is that he is self-funding. They see the evil of too much money in American politics. The oft repeated self-funding line is deceptive at best and really looks more like a flat out lie.
During the primary Trump did largely self-fund – in a fashion. He did not accept large direct donations from PACs and the like. He did however accept small donations from individuals. (I see nothing wrong with that; it’s large amounts from undisclosed sources that are corrupting our system.) The reality is that almost all the money he put into the campaign took the form of loans. Loans can be repaid and I’m certain that is largely Trump’s intent. Trump also was the beneficiary of at least one “independent” PAC and the NRA spending on his behalf.
Trump’s fundraising of late has been very good yet he has almost no field operation and is just running his first television commercials. With less than 90 days to the election (and much less to early voting) what is he waiting for? I suggest that he is sitting on cash in order to repay the loans if he doesn’t tighten this contest up to the point that he looks like he could win.
Now that the general election campaign is here Trump can no longer self-fund although he does nothing to dispel the perception among his followers that he still is. Much of his fundraising efforts are the work of the Republican Party. While not well publicized, (like his rallies), Trump has attended scores of private fundraisers. Often these events feature other Republicans speaking on his behalf that do not have the courage to appear on stage with him in public. A prime example is North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory who is up for reelection this November and is currently 7 points behind in the polls.
One of the most effective modern day political fundraising tools is the use of bundlers. George W. Bush’s campaigns probably perfected the “art”. A bundlers may or may not be a large donor in their own right, but their function is to solicit donations from their circle of friends and associates that when bundled together (hence the term) constitute a large sum and are handed over to the campaign. Keep in mind we are not talking about someone getting ten of their friends to donate a hundred bucks apiece totaling $1,000. We are talking about a group in which everyone makes at least a four figure donation and the total gets into the six or seven figure range.
Both sides use this method of fundraising. In 2016 one side has been honest about it and the other is feigning ignorance. A few weeks ago Hillary Clinton released the names of 500 bundlers – from the Trump campaign crickets.
An old adage in investigation is: follow the money. It appears that is also a way to detect the level of deception in the 2016 presidential campaign.
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