Sweet: Trump to start fundraising for general election

SHARE Sweet: Trump to start fundraising for general election
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia, on May 5, 2016. | Steve Helber/AP

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WASHINGTON — Donald Trump, whose claim of self-funding helped make him the GOP presumptive presidential nominee, is not willing to spend the $1 billion plus it will take for the general election and is now going the traditional fundraising route.

The technical term for this: Flip-flop.

One source of gigantic Republican money that Trump and his allies will not be able to tap is the Ricketts family, whose political operations are overseen by Todd Ricketts, the Cubs co-owner and Wilmette businessman who emerged as a leader of the stop Trump movement.

In turn, Trump went on the attack against the Ricketts, telling the Washington Post editorial board in March, “I’ll start taking ads telling them all what a rotten job they’re doing with the Chicago Cubs,” Trump said. The Cubs are winners — currently first in their division and the best team in baseball.

I cover the political activities of the Ricketts family, and from what I know, it is absolutely inconceivable that Trump will get any support from the GOP wing of the Ricketts’ clan.

I forecast Trump’s likely giving up the self-funding route in a February column. On Thursday, Trump named a national finance chair, Steven Mnuchin, an ex-Hillary Clinton donor who comes out of Wall Street and is a member of the board of Sears Holdings, the retail giant headquartered in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates.

OPINION

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Mnuchin is a former Goldman Sachs partner who, according to Federal Election Commission records, also worked for Soros Fund Management, the company created by George Soros, one of the biggest donors to Democratic causes in the nation, including a super PAC boosting Clinton.

Goldman Sachs has been cast as the bad guy of the 2016 campaign season. Trump slammed Ted Cruz because his wife worked at Goldman Sachs and has hit Clinton — as has Bernie Sanders — for her jumbo speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.

Mnuchin is now the chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management, a private investment firm, and the chairman of Dune Entertainment.

The billionaire businessman and reality show star has paid for most but not all of his campaign to date. He has loaned his campaign $35,926,174, according to FEC records, with a nice chunk of money, $12,467,367, coming from individual donations. Trump expects to be “putting up substantial money” toward the November election, his campaign said.

I talked to GOP fundraisers and donors on Thursday, and one summed it up like this: When it comes to Trump raising money, “we are in uncharted territory, because a lot of his success was his pitch that he didn’t need your money.”

Sanders raised millions from small-dollar donors. Will low-dollar givers contribute to a billionaire?

Hours after Trump tapped Mnuchin, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he is not ready to back Trump.

“I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now. And I hope to, though, and I want to. But I think what is required is that we unify the party. And I think the bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee,” Ryan told CNN.

A fundraiser told me that if Ryan is holding back on Trump when it comes to big givers, “a lot of the donor community will feel the same.”

Tweets by @lynnsweet

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