Donald Trump is moving to undercut what’s expected to be a major point of strength for rival Republican Ron DeSantis — reaching out to the Florida governor’s donors directly in an effort to steal some of his top backers.
In a memo to DeSantis’ donors obtained by POLITICO, Trump’s campaign on Tuesday evening sought to paint the former president as the inevitable nominee and urged DeSantis’ donors to jump ship.
“The two things the memo illustrates are the President’s huge numbers and Governor Ron DeSantis’ collapsing numbers,” the Trump campaign wrote in the memo. “Now is the time to demonstrate your support and join” the Trump effort.
The memo — which was equal parts a jab at DeSantis and an actual appeal for support — displays how the Trump campaign is seeking to capitalize on his current strength in polling ahead of the 2024 presidential primary. The former president has seen his rise in support among Republicans in recent weeks amid news of his indictment over allegations of involvement in a scheme to pay hush money to a porn actress during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The email links to a donation page and to a three-page memo written by Trump campaign pollster John McLaughlin. McLaughlin summarizes recent surveys showing the former president with double-digit leads over DeSantis nationally and in New Hampshire, a key early nominating state.
The indictment has proven to be a windfall for the Trump campaign, which through Wednesday has raised over $12 million since it emerged last week that the former president was facing charges, according to a person familiar with the totals. The person said that one-third of those who have given are first-time donors to Trump.
But in its courtship of DeSantis contributors, it is clear, too, that the Trump campaign sees the risk that DeSantis poses to Trump’s path to the nomination, particularly in terms of his fundraising strength. The former governor has $90 million in leftover funds in his political committee, and he has in the past received the backing of GOP megadonors such as investor Ken Griffin, options trader Jeff Yass and private equity investor John Childs. In February, DeSantis held a donor retreat that drew a number of major givers, some of whom have previously backed Trump.
And earlier this week, a super PAC that has been set up to support a potential DeSantis candidacy announced that it had raised $30 million.
Trump himself is not exactly hurting for money. Though he has seen some of his past major donors express coolness toward his comeback bid, the former president still boasts a super PAC of his own that, as of the end of last year, had $54 million on hand. The group, MAGA Inc., has begun using the war chest to attack DeSantis.
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