Trump's cash plea could complicate GOP fundraising efforts

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - "Trump needs you" pleaded a donation email.
"President Trump's legacy is in your hands," pleaded another.
Others advertised "Miss Me Yet?" T-shirts with Donald Trump's smiling face.
While some Republicans grapple with how hard it is to hug the former president, the organizations tasked with fundraising for the party go all-in. The Republican National Committee and the Party's Congressional Campaign Guns are keen to take advantage of Trump's lure with small donors ahead of next year's midterm elections if the GOP hopes to regain control of at least one Chamber of Congress.
But there is one problem: Trump himself. In his first speech since leaving office, the former president encouraged loyalists to give directly to him, essentially bypassing the traditional groups that raise money for GOP candidates.
"There is only one way to add to our efforts to vote for Republican Conservatives 'America First' and make America great again," Trump said Sunday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla. America PAC and donaldjtrump.com . "
The comment was particularly noteworthy because Trump generally refuses to ask for money in person. It is the latest volley in the fight to shape the future of the GOP. Trump makes it clear that he is not staying true to the party's traditional fundraiser as he tries to cement power.
That could help him expand an already commanding war chest and aid his efforts to influence the party. Save America has more than $ 80 million in cash, including $ 3 million raised after the CPAC speech, according to a person familiar with the grand total.
Some of that money could help Trump settle points with incumbent members of Congress who crossed him. In his Sunday speech, Trump read out the names of all Republicans who voted against him and demanded that they be defeated. He has already endorsed a Republican challenger to Ohio GOP MP Anthony Gonzalez, who voted to indict Trump over the U.S. Capitol uprising.
"Trump's call to give directly to him shows that the normal organs of the party ... must fight for relevance in the 2022 cycle," said Dan Eberhart, a longtime Republican donor who gave large sums to all three as well as to Trump Campaign.
Bill Palatucci, a New Jersey RNC member, described Trump's comments as "undesirable" and "counterproductive" and expressed concern that the GOP would suffer further losses, such as the Georgia Senate runoff in January, if they do not work together .
"Look, it's a free country. Anyone can form a federal PAC or a Super-PAC, and there's always a lot of competition for dollars. But crossing the line also means telling people they're on the important committees should not give anything to the national party, "said Palatucci." The former president must be ready to look beyond his own interests.
The RNC and the spokesmen for the House and Senate campaign committees declined to comment. But others tried to downplay the apparent tensions. For example, they noted that Trump is due to speak at the RNC's spring donor retreat - a major fundraiser - in Palm Beach in April.
And Trump told the party's chairman Ronna McDaniel over the past few days that he would like to continue to raise funds for the RNC, a person who was briefed on the conversation and, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations .
Before Trump's team made their money on Sunday, they quietly updated their fundraising records. They converted his PAC for the leadership of Save America into a unit capable of assisting other candidates and turned his main committee for Donald J. Trump's presidential campaign into Make America Great Again (MAGAPac). The money raised through Trump's website will now go to Save America JFC, a joint donation agreement between the two of them.
While Trump stepped down as a deeply unpopular figure, he remains a strong draw for small-scale grassroots donors, a reality that was made apparent in fundraising calls over the past week.
For a single hour last Thursday, the RNC, both the GOP Congressional Campaign Committees and the Republican State Leadership Committee, which seeks to elect Republicans to state office, beat up supporters with urgent fundraising appeals containing urgent clues about Trump.
And the National Republican Senatorial Committee warned this week that its "limited edition" T-shirts featuring Trump were almost sold out.
Regardless of Trump's next move, the GOP is unlikely to remove him from the sales pitch anytime soon.
"Our digital fundraising strategy is simple: raise as much money as you can," said Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for the RSLC.
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