Trump on raising millions from rich donors: I'm only doing it because the RNC asked me to

The best line comes after the AP notes that Trump’s fans are forever praising him for not letting sleazy fatcats buy influence with him via campaign contributions. Now that the sleaze tap has been turned on for the general election, the report continues, “It’s not clear how they will react.” It’s not? Has the AP ever interviewed a Trump supporter? They’ll react the way they react every time he undermines his own credibility, by ignoring it and reminding themselves that Trump is America’s unimpeachable national savior no matter what those filthy elites say.

He’s presenting this, naturally, as an act of selflessness on behalf of the party, not something he desperately needs to do because a competitive national campaign will run you 10 figures nowadays and even a billionaire doesn’t have cash like that lying around. In which case, a question: If he doesn’t need the money, why doesn’t he forfeit the donations that are earmarked for his campaign and let the RNC (and state party committees) keep all of it? That’s the least he could do to try to mitigate some of the down-ballot damage that’s expected this fall from his nomination.

Trump insists that his about-face from self-funded candidate to one who relies on donors is happening only at the request of the Republican National Committee.

“The RNC really wanted to do it, and I want to show good spirit,” Trump said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “‘Cause I was very happy to continue to go along the way I was.”

For every check he solicits — and donors can give almost $450,000 apiece — the first $5,400 goes to Trump’s primary and general election campaign accounts. The rest is spread among the RNC and 11 state parties…

Asked by The AP if he sees a contradiction in asking for money after repeatedly saying he stood above the other candidates because he didn’t, Trump said, “No, because I’m raising money for the party.”

Trump also first denied to the AP that he is raising any money for the primary. Reminded of the terms of the fundraising agreement, he then said primary donations don’t really count because he already has defeated his GOP rivals.

His newest campaign rainmaker is Woody Johnson, a member of the Johnson & Johnson family empire and the owner of the New York Jets. If Johnson’s name sounds familiar, that’s because not only was he Jeb Bush’s finance chairman, he was name-checked repeatedly on the trail this spring by Trump himself as an example of the sort of special interest that would have financial leverage over Jeb if he was elected president. Johnson, in other words, was Trump’s own handpicked paradigm example of a corrupting influence on the already corrupt establishment. And now here we are. From February:

[Trump] used Medicare drug prices as his first example — he’s joined Democrats in proposing that the government use its clout to negotiate lower drug prices, an idea normally anathema in conservative politics.

“For some reason, I don’t know what the reason is — I do know what the reason is, but I don’t know how they can sell it — we’re not allowed to negotiate drug prices, can you believe it?” Trump said.

Trump predicted Jeb Bush would avoid taking on the issue as president because Woody Johnson, whose family founded Johnson & Johnson, served as his campaign chairman.

Not only is he an egregious hypocrite for bringing Johnson aboard now, he spent the spring haranguing Johnson for being a stumbling block to a policy that actual conservatives loathe because of how it would empower big government. It doesn’t get any Trumpier than that.

Another reason he might want to let the RNC keep all of the money he raises is that, according to this Examiner report, the RNC will basically be running what’s supposed to be Trump’s general election campaign. Read it to see how they’re being forced to scramble to fill in the gaps of Trump’s GOTV operation, and by “gaps” I mean “pretty much the entire organization.” A traditional candidate, notes David Drucker, “would have had at least a skeleton digital and field staff to build on” at this point.” Trump has nothing because, so far, he hasn’t needed it. His army of operatives is the national media and they’ve delivered for him consistently — so far. If and when they decide they don’t want to work for Trump anymore, it’ll be the RNC’s field team and data crunchers that are forced to pick up the slack. According to one GOP operative who spoke to Drucker, a ground-game advantage is worth 2.5 points in a national election, a margin that could easily make the difference between a victory by Trump and one by Clinton, and Hillary begins with a considerable advantage. Even beyond this election, by failing to harvest data on his voters in the primaries Trump has made it that much harder for the GOP to catch up to the Democrats in the data game, where Republicans have been lagging since 2008, in the next few cycles. So much for team spirit with the RNC. But then, that’s the Trump phenomenon in a nutshell. For all the heavy breathing about a Trumpist takeover of the party, so much of Trumpmania is unique to Trump himself. There’s hardly any celebrity in America, let alone a random rank-and-file nationalist politician, who can command the media the way he does to get his message out. There’s been scarcely any effort at all by Trumpers to defeat Republican establishment incumbents in primaries this year despite all of the hot rhetoric about cleaning out Washington’s Augean stables. Trump is his movement. What does he care what sort of skimpy data haul the RNC is left with after this year if he doesn’t end up a winner?