Trump’s fans send un­so­licited cash

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY KELLY RID­DELL

He may be de­rided by pun­dits and mocked by op­po­nents, but GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump has fol­low­ers so de­voted that they’re will­ing to send him money — even though he never asked for any.

The bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man said he would fund his own cam­paign so he wouldn’t be be­holden to any donors, which has turned out to be a great way to get fund­ing from or­di­nary folks en­thralled by his busi­ness acu­men and fight­ing spirit and believ­ing he is the only can­di­date in the race who can make Amer­ica great again.

His cam­paign col­lected $3.9 mil­lion from July to Septem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion. And 75 per­cent of those cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions came in amounts of $200 or less.

“I think Don­ald Trump is the only one for Amer­ica,” said Rita Mon­tesi from Cor­dova, Ten­nessee, who sent Mr. Trump $500. “Amer­ica used to be a great coun­try; it’s no longer a great coun­try. He’s a busi­ness­man, he knows how to ne­go­ti­ate, he says what he thinks … I think it’s either him or I don’t know what.”

Ms. Mon­tesi, who owns an in­dus­trial sup­ply store, said she con­trib­uted be­cause she wants to “stand up and be counted” among Mr. Trump’s sup­port­ers. She put his bumper sticker on her car, at­tended his rally in Franklin, Ten­nessee, and is ac­tively cam­paign­ing for him.

“This is the first time I have ever had this pas­sion for any­one,” she said. “This re­ally is a phe­nom­e­non. The he of­ten touts as the rea­son the coun­try needs him.

“Trump is the most suc­cess­ful guy on the stage, pe­riod,” said Kent Baugh­man of Jupiter, Florida. “The U.S. is a big busi­ness, and it’s fail­ing now. You can only bor­row so much money. At some point you have to turn the busi­ness to where it’s prof­itable. He’s the most suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man, and we need a busi­ness­man. Not a politi­cian, not a hu­man­i­tar­ian, a busi­ness­man.”

Mr. Baugh­man gave $500 to Mr. Trump and owns an ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany.

“I fig­ured I’d throw some money in the pot,” he said. “Trump can roll his sleeves up and get into a slug­ging match. If you’re a pres­i­dent, you have to have some grit, and ours now doesn’t.”

His grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion are what Mr. Trump’s sup­port­ers love about him — and they’re per­plexed by re­tired neu­ro­sur­geon Ben Car­son’s run for the top of­fice. De­spite pun­dits lump­ing the two GOP front-run­ners to­gether as “out­siders” who draw from the same pool of sup­port­ers, none of the Trump sup­port­ers in­ter­viewed by The Times said they would vote for Mr. Car­son.

“I like Ben Car­son, but I don’t know if he’s strong enough for what we need,” said Priscilla Fer­gu­son of Cy­press, Texas, who do­nated to the Trump cam­paign.

That sense that Mr. Car­son lacks a fighter’s in­stinct came through in the in­ter­views, with many say­ing Mr. Car­son would be over­matched in ne­go­ti­a­tions with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

“Gen­tle Ben is Gen­tle Ben,” said Philip Dami­ano of Hay­den Lake, Idaho. “I wouldn’t want to put him in a room with Putin be­cause Putin would kill him.”

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