Trump fundraising power keeps the GOP grateful
Republican senators are bucking President Trump’s calls to revive the health care debate. And Mr. Trump just ousted his only top White House aide with deep links to the Republican Party.
But the president and his party won’t be calling it quits anytime soon. They remain tightly linked by a force more powerful than politics or personal ties: cash.
Mr. Trump’s fundraising prowess is the engine of the Republican National Committee and a lifeline for every Republican planning to rely on the party for financial help during next year’s congressional races. Leaning heavily on the president’s appeal among small donors, the party has raised $75 million in the first six months of the year, more than double what the Democratic National Committee had raised by the same point in President Obama’s first year.
“The president is somebody who absolutely is an asset when it comes to fundraising,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said. Mr. Trump has a strong bond with a base of Republicans who have been more willing this year than ever before to chip in. The party says it collected more cash online in the first six months of the year than in all of 2016.
In late June Mr. Trump played star and host of a fundraiser for his re-election campaign and the RNC. The event at the Trump International Hotel, just down Pennsylvania Ave. from the White House, raised $10 million to be divided between Mr. Trump and the party, the kind of bounty usually reserved for the final months before an election.
The fundraising numbers help explain why more Republicans — particularly those facing re-election next year — aren’t openly distancing themselves from a president whose approval rating hovers below 40 percent and whose White House has been plagued by public backbiting and legislative stumbles.
And while Mr. Trump hasn’t hesitated to call out Republicans who defy him, he’s largely come to appreciate the permanence the RNC offers a White House that has had to quickly staff up from nothing — a task that hasn’t always gone smoothly.
Mr. Trump’s dismissal last week of Reince Priebus as chief of staff prompted a rush of concern from Republican lawmakers who’d gotten to know Mr. Priebus during his nearly six years as party chairman. Some wondered if Mr. Trump was losing his only link to the institutional Republican Party.
Yet the well-funded RNC has been reformatted for the Trump era.
“The president likes the fact that the party is structured to help his agenda, and there’s not a question that this RNC is 100 percent loyal to him,” said Brian Ballard, one of the party’s lead fundraisers. “It’s not like the RNC he inherited as the party’s nominee; it’s his now.”