How Republicans Still Rely on the Trump Brand to Fund-Raise

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Trump pint glasses. Trump T-shirts. Trump memberships. Six months aft the erstwhile president near office, his party’s fund-raising occurrence depends heavy connected his vaunted name.

People posed with a cardboard cutout of erstwhile  President Donald J. Trump astatine  the Conservative Political Action Conference successful  Dallas this month.
Credit...Cooper Neill for The New York Times

Shane Goldmacher

July 27, 2021, 6:49 p.m. ET

Even successful defeat, thing sells successful the Republican Party rather similar Donald J. Trump.

The Republican National Committee has been dangling a “Trump Life Membership” to entice tiny contributors to springiness online. The party’s Senate run limb has been hawking an “Official Trump Majority Membership.” And the committee devoted to winning backmost the House has been touting Mr. Trump’s astir each nationalist utterance, talking up a nonexistent Trump societal media web and urging donations to “retake Trump’s Majority.”

Six months aft Mr. Trump near office, the cardinal to online fund-raising occurrence for the Republican Party successful 2021 tin mostly beryllium summed up successful the 3 words it utilized to place the sender of a caller email solicitation: “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

The fund-raising connection of enactment committees is among the astir finely tuned messaging successful politics, with each connection designed to motivate much radical to springiness much wealth online. And each that investigating has yielded Trump-themed gimmicks and giveaways including Trump pint glasses, Trump-signed pictures, Trump lawsuit tickets and Trump T-shirts — conscionable from the National Republican Senatorial Committee successful the period of July.

“The Republican Party has ne'er had small-dollar fund-raising astatine this standard earlier Donald Trump,” said Brad Parscale, who was Mr. Trump’s archetypal run manager successful 2020 and is inactive an adviser, “and they astir apt ne'er volition astatine this standard aft Donald Trump.”

The strategy is intelligibly paying fiscal dividends, arsenic 3 main G.O.P. national committees raised a combined $134.8 cardinal from nonstop idiosyncratic contributions successful the archetypal six months of 2021, astir matching the $136.2 cardinal raised by the equivalent Democratic committees, national records show.

But the endless invocations of the erstwhile president underscore not lone his enduring entreaty to online Republican activists and donors — the basal of the party’s basal and its fiscal motor — but besides the unlikelihood that the G.O.P. apparatus wants to, oregon adjacent can, meaningfully interruption from him for the foreseeable future.

The stark reliance connected Mr. Trump’s sanction to spur tiny donations amounts to a tangible look of the party’s inescapable dependency connected him — 1 that risks preventing a reckoning implicit the losses the G.O.P. suffered successful the past 4 years, including Mr. Trump’s own, which helium has denied by clinging to mendacious theories of predetermination fraud.

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Credit...National Republican Senatorial Committee

Republican strategists said the party’s messaging and the influx of wealth bespeak Mr. Trump’s continued clasp connected the hearts and wallets of the grass-roots, contempt the enactment losing the House, the Senate and the White House successful his azygous term.

“The governing people of the Republican Party would conscionable arsenic good spot him determination on,” said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist and erstwhile apical governmental advisor for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s been ‘enough is enough.’ But helium inactive keeps a steadfast grip connected the grass-roots.”

With Democrats successful afloat power of Washington, immoderate Republicans are hoping their enactment tin rally chiefly against President Biden and the Democrats successful the 2022 midterms. Yet Mr. Biden’s sanction has been arsenic absent from the G.O.P. pleas for currency arsenic Mr. Trump has been pervasive, a informing motion that Republicans are struggling to disturbance the benignant of impassioned absorption to him that they had erstwhile generated to erstwhile President Barack Obama, and that Democrats had uniting their enactment against Mr. Trump 4 years ago.

Since May 1, the Republicans’ Senate run limb has invoked Mr. Biden’s sanction successful the sender enactment connected its emails conscionable 4 times; Mr. Trump’s sanction has appeared determination 185 times.

The Republican National Committee treated Mr. Trump’s June 14 day astir similar a nationalist holiday, sending retired nary little than 19 emails astir it, starting much than 5 weeks successful advance. The House run limb joined in, too: “Why haven’t you signed Trump’s Bday Card?!” work 1 substance message. “We’ve texted 6x & it’s lone 5 days away!”

The dense usage of Mr. Trump’s sanction has astatine times been a root of friction with the erstwhile president, who has begun ramping up fund-raising for his ain governmental enactment committee, called Save America. As a businessman, Mr. Trump spent years leveraging and licensing his sanction for cash, slapping it connected buildings and products, and helium and immoderate of his advisers person been irked by the exploitation of his representation by enactment committees that bash not ever align with his governmental interests.

In March, his lawyers sent a cease-and-desist missive to the 3 main Republican committees demanding they halt utilizing his sanction and likeness. But back-channel discussions defused the concern arsenic party officials insisted they had each close to notation to him but promised not to usage his signature without permission. Still, immoderate enactment committees proceed to propulsion the limits by wording messages to look arsenic though they are coming from Mr. Trump.

Current and past enactment operatives said Mr. Trump’s sanction simply raises the astir money. Every click and publication is cautiously cataloged, and committees tin comparison however overmuch is raised utilizing antithetic messages and messengers. Those with Mr. Trump’s sanction simply outperform, operatives said.

“President Trump and his policies stay a large operator for small-dollar donors,” said Michael McAdams, communications manager for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

During 1 agelong successful June, astir 90 percent of that committee’s fund-raising texts mentioned Mr. Trump. Some solicitations person appealed to supporters’ emotion of Mr. Trump; others person tapped into their fearfulness of disappointing him.

At 1 constituent this spring, the committee warned donors against opting retired of recurring monthly contributions done a prechecked box: “If you UNCHECK this box, we volition person to archer Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.”

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In a precocious 2020 memo, WinRed, the party’s main online donation-processing platform, said that donation pages that mentioned the connection “Trump” reaped, connected average, doubly arsenic galore donors arsenic pages that did not. WinRed inactive gives Mr. Trump apical billing connected its location page, featuring him supra the existent enactment committees. Mr. Trump besides continues to beryllium featured prominently successful galore Democratic fund-raising pitches.

While erstwhile presidents bash typically support a pursuing among the grass-roots — Mr. Obama is inactive featured connected the donation pages of immoderate Democratic Party groups — Mr. Trump is uniquely omnipresent successful the Republican integer ecosystem.

Tim Cameron, a Republican integer strategist, said 1 crushed is that overmuch of the Republican online donating infrastructure sprang up during the Trump epoch — after years of neglect and being outraised by the Democrats. “It’s however these lists were built,” helium said.

Hogan Gidley, who worked arsenic an advisor to Mr. Trump astatine the White House, said the enactment — which inactive is populated by vestiges of a Trump-skeptical constitution that sees his incendiary attack to authorities arsenic a mediocre acceptable for plaything districts and states — risks backlash and choler if it uses the Trump marque to bankroll causes and candidates not aligned with the pro-Trump movement.

“This is wherever the enactment is,” Mr. Gidley said. “You tin thrust that question oregon you tin effort to aquatics against it but the question is going to win.”

Mr. Trump and the enactment are sometimes straight astatine odds.

The party’s Senate run arm, for instance, is supporting the re-election of Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican who voted to convict Mr. Trump of impeachable offenses. Mr. Trump is supporting her challenger, Kelly Tshibaka. Mr. Trump has besides regularly attacked Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, including in a code to enactment donors this spring, calling him a “stone acold loser.”

Mr. McConnell has ignored the slights. The online store of the enactment committee charged with returning Mr. McConnell to the bulk presently has 21 of 23 items for merchantability featuring Mr. Trump’s sanction oregon face; zero diagnostic Mr. McConnell.

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Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The party’s Senate committee has besides hired Gary Coby, the designer of Mr. Trump’s 2020 integer cognition who continues to enactment with Mr. Trump, arsenic a fund-raising consultant, according to radical acquainted with the matter.

Mr. Trump has begun ramping up his fund-raising operation, sending regular texts and emails that efficaciously vie with the enactment apparatus. Mr. Trump’s PAC is back advertizing connected Facebook, too, adjacent arsenic the level has banned Mr. Trump from posting determination himself.

Of the each enactment organizations, the Republican National Committee has possibly the trickiest enactment to toed due to the fact that it is charged with neutrally overseeing the 2024 statesmanlike information process, whether oregon not Mr. Trump runs.

The R.N.C. worked successful tandem with the Trump re-election run past year, raising hundreds of millions of dollars done shared accounts. A New York Times investigation successful April showed however the Trump cognition had utilized prechecked recurring donation boxes to lure unwitting donors into giving again and again — resulting successful a question of fraud complaints and demands for refunds.

It turns retired that immoderate donations-on-autopilot continued each the mode done June 2021, erstwhile enactment officials stopped processing donations to their shared account, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee. That relationship raised $2.6 cardinal successful June astir wholly done recurring donations, according to a idiosyncratic acquainted with the matter, of which 75 percent was earmarked for Mr. Trump’s PAC and 25 percent to the R.N.C.

But though those donations were stopped, the Trump messaging has continued, with the enactment hawking “Back to Back Trump Voter” shirts successful caller days — yours “FREE” with a $50 donation.

“He’s truthful bully for small-dollar fund-raising,” said Liz Mair, a Republican strategist who has been captious of Mr. Trump successful the past. “The enactment cannot financially spend to separate.”

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