Donald Trump is worth more than $10 billion, according to Donald Trump. So, theoretically, he could pay for nine presidential campaigns and still have a billion left over. (Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates his net worth at $3 billion, still more than enough for a campaign.)
Trump has flirted with that idea. He mostly paid his own way during the Republican primary, and, speaking to Fox News after his win in Indiana in May, he said he could sell a building to underwrite the general-election contest. But later that month, he started actively soliciting donations from the general public.
In his first full month of fundraising, Trump gathered more than $50 million for his campaign and his party, about as much as he’s spent of his own funds. His rate of raising and spending remains well behind his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
So why should a donor who’s less rich than Trump write him a check? And how do Trump’s fundraisers ask for money for such a wealthy guy? At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week, eight of his top financial supporters shared their thoughts.
1. It’s empowering to give Trump money.
“People who invest in these sorts of things will turn out to vote. They will become powerful advocates for the campaign. And so we’re asking you to put a little bit of your blood, sweat, and tears into this thing because we know it’s empowering.” — Anthony Scaramucci, a Trump fundraiser from New York
2. It’s all about the party.
“This is not just about raising money for Donald. This is about raising money for the party to get out the vote, which helps everybody else on the ticket. And its Donald’s objective not only to be president, but it’s his objective to have Republicans in control of the House and the Senate.” — Steven Mnuchin, Trump finance chairman
3. Trump can deny responsibility for attack ads if someone else pays for them.
“You always want to be able to say, ‘Well, it’s not me.'” — David Bossie of Defeat Crooked Hillary, a super-political action committee that focuses on negative ads about Hillary Clinton
4. It’s an investment.
“One guy could write a check, but what you want is a lot of people to write a check so they have an investment in the campaign. If Bill Gates ran, he could write a check for a billion dollars, but he might be the only person voting for himself. … You want to invest in America.” — Ray Washburne, a Trump fundraiser from Texas
5. The presidency shouldn’t be a billionaires’ club.
“People understand that you really don’t want someone who completely funds his own campaign. You don’t want to turn this into a billionaires’ club for president. … It’s important for a presidential candidate be able to show not only electoral support but also financial support from his base.” — Andrew Puzder, a Trump fundraiser from California
6. Mitt Romney didn’t pay for his whole campaign either.
Romney “was a candidate who could pay for his own stuff too. … It costs a lot of money to run for office.” — Howard Winkler, a Republican fundraiser from California
7. Trump is running the gauntlet. Isn’t that enough?
“A lot of us who are not interested in being candidates feel that the guy who is willing to go through all the arduous turmoil that’s involved, all the press scrutiny, all the criticism, that’s a big sacrifice. And it also means diverting yourself from your normal business.” — Wilbur Ross, billionaire investor and Trump donor
8. Trump isn’t spending enough, so somebody needs to.
“I have no way of knowing what the [Trump] family’s plans are and I don’t ask. It’s their money. We’re currently getting outspent by tens of millions of dollars. … If somebody said to me, ‘He should spend his own money,’ I say, ‘They are outspending us now.'” — Ken McKay of Rebuilding America Now, a pro-Trump super-PAC
Eight Reasons to Bankroll a Billionaire’s Campaign