A $3 Raffle? Trump’s Unorthodox Pleas for Cash
Policy + Politics

A $3 Raffle? Trump’s Unorthodox Pleas for Cash

Rick Wilking

Add a chapter on unconventional fund-raising to Donald Trump’s burgeoning campaign playbook.

On Sunday, a digital marketer sent a message to the mailing list run by Breitbart, a conservative website. The message -- entitled “How great is this?” -- was from Donald Trump, inviting recipients to send him $3 to earn a chance to tour Trump Tower and have lunch with his son Eric.

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No mention of any campaign issues that might light a fire under donors. No thoughts about how the three bucks could help propel a conservative agenda. Just a lunch raffle and the promise that Eric will spring for the chow and that Dad will ask him what was said over the $19 “gold label” burger or $25 lobster roll at Trump Grill – although there actually were no details about exactly where the winner will be allowed to regale young Trump with his or her political views.

Also no mention of when the raffle will be held or when lunch might take place.

The message was a repeat of one sent out about a week ago from Eric himself, though with a slightly different pitch.

That email also promised a free flight to New York (again, no timetable) but provided a little more red meat. “I’m sure Hillary Clinton’s campaign is setting up fundraisers with high-powered lobbyists as we speak,” Eric wrote. “But those are the people who have rigged the economy against you, left our borders wide open, and refuse to take the threat of Radical Islam seriously.”

The deal was the same, though: Kick in $3 and get a chance to win.

Speaking of deals, a previous fund-raising appeal from Republican nominee Trump offered a signed, hardcover copy of his best-selling business book The Art of the Deal for contributing a mere $184, or about $109 more than the cost of a signed first edition on eBay.

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No surprisingly Trump’s co-author, Tony Schwartz, was not mentioned. Schwartz said recently that he wrote almost every word of the book, that it was mostly fiction and that he wasn’t sure if Trump had even read all of it. Schwartz also said of his “writing partner” that “If he could run for emperor of the world, he would.”

At least that Art of the Deal fund-raising message offered more than a raffle. “I am taking on the rigged political system, the failed career politicians and the lying liberal media to put America First,” Trump wrote. “Today we have elected and appointed political leaders who are not very smart. They think small, and have made terrible deals for our country. As a result, we’ve lost MILLIONS of good-paying jobs and our middle class has been decimated. Wall Street, the special interests and their bought-and-sold career politicians have conspired to take away so many families’ means of making a living.”

Although that email arrived on Aug. 3, less than two weeks ago, some of its claims have been overtaken by events, especially the part where Trump wrote, “That’s why we’ve surged past Crooked Hillary in recent polls, and continue to build tremendous momentum all across America.”

Today’s Real Clear Politics poll average has Clinton ahead by 6.8 points in a two-way race.

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But hey, maybe all those righteous, often foreboding calls for cash that traditional politicians send out are not the only way to fund a campaign. Though he was desperately low on campaign funds earlier in the summer, Trump and the Republican National Committee brought in $82 million in July compared to $90 million for Clinton, and most of the haul came from small donations.

Still, there is a certain irony to the raffle pitch: It’s usually the Democrats who are accused of offering a free lunch in exchange for your vote.