Former President Trump needs money. I get that. After last year’s midterm elections I signed up for Trump’s daily email pleas and propaganda. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer was my rationale. It pays off, though my friends think I am nuts.
In the first year two to three emails came to me daily, usually driven by the flow of political news and the need to keep the money coming in. This was typical:
I will still have to fight for my rights in the Appeals Court – as the Biden Special Counsel will do everything in their power to rush my fake trial and wrongly CONVICT me before the 2024 election.
At this pivotal moment, I am humbly asking for your support, Patriot.
This was a different Trump from his first and second Presidential campaigns. These messages were not all Trump rants that characterized his X (former Twitter) screeds. He still calls his enemies names but those characterization have lost much of their sting through repetition. His attack mode is still designed for the MAGA faithful. What seems to have changed is a more targeted approach that has space for drop-ins like me.
I have never contributed money to Trump. The campaign knows that as there are messages addressed to me by name that note the fact that I have “not yet contributed” and hope that I will contribute.
These were and are professionally produced messages, curated and edited messages that are targeted. For a year I was addressed by name — Peter — a sign that software targets recipients. I recently graduated to “Patriot” as the drive for donations shifts into a higher and higher gear.
The “asks” for money have escalated almost parallel to Trump’s legal problems. The news site Axios reports that: “Trump’s team is no longer a not-so-organized collection of family members and hangers-on. Instead, it’s staffed with political veterans who are building robust get-out-the-vote campaigns in key states, starting in Iowa.”
A noticeable increase in daily messages started about two months ago. A heavy day brings 5 or 6 pleas into my email. As we moved into the Hannukah, Christmas, and New Year period there has been another escalation: 8-10 messages a day. Between Dec 26 and 28 Maine and Colorado’s exclusion of Trump from their primary ballots produced 27 separate Trump reactions with pleas for funds in my inbox.
Some were “personal” leading with Trump’s reaction to what was being done to him, hailing me as a Patriot he knew would agree with him. At times Trump’s combative name-calling style bled through those tempered ghost-written versions of the former President’s style. What became clear was the Trump campaign on this level was a professional operation that played off the news and the long list of ongoing legal challenges Trump faces. The chaotic X diatribes that were Trump screaming in print, lashing out, were now organized and targeted messages.
My lack of donation did not result in charges of disloyalty, just more pleading.
There is ample evidence that what was often lacking in previous Trump campaigns “the ground game” in campaign speak, the kind of organization beyond rallies and radio/TV advertising, is now in place. Iowa will be the first test in January.
Alex Conant who worked on Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign as a strategist says: “In 2016 his campaign was basically his family and a handful of operatives who wouldn’t have gotten hired by any other campaigns. In 2020 it was an extension of the White House which itself was a disordered mess. This time around he’s hired some real professionals and understands that the only way he wins the nomination for a third time is by running a very disciplined campaign that can’t afford to lose anywhere.”
Rally audiences have diminished dramatically, evidence that the Trump revival style meetings may have run their course yet polls still indicate Trump’s lead in primaries at or above 50%.
The outreach for money is the meat and potatoes of American politics. I still get pleas for donations to the Democratic Party’s National Campaign Committee from “Nancy Pelosi” at about the rate of twice a week that matches Trump’s summer style. But the barrage that the Trump organization has unleashed this holiday season bespeaks another level.