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President Trump is planning a far different campaign in 2020 than his long-shot run in 2016. Tomorrow, his team is launching a fundraising effort designed to reach the very establishment Republican donors that Trump essentially pushed away last time around. Here's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: As candidate Trump stomped one well-funded Republican candidate after another on his way to the nomination, he boasted that his scrappy campaign was funded by a combination of his own money and thousands of small-dollar donations. And he criticized his opponents' dependence on deep-pocketed donors.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A guy like Jeb Bush or any of these guys - they're all controlled by the people that gave them the money, OK.
It's because they're donors and special interests and lobbyists, and they have total control over the people.
KEITH: But the reality is there were a lot of traditional Republican donors who simply wouldn't support Trump, even as he became the party's nominee. Anthony Scaramucci was on the Trump campaign national finance committee. He remembers a fundraiser at a fancy restaurant in midtown Manhattan in June 2016.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: We couldn't fill the place, so I was calling every Scaramucci in the five, you know, boroughs, in the tri-state metropolitan area.
KEITH: He showed me the pictures on his phone. There were a lot of Scaramuccis. In 2012, Scaramucci did fundraising for Mitt Romney. And the plan was to hit up many of the same donors for Trump.
SCARAMUCCI: We were frustrated because it was a very large group of never-Trumpers. It was a very large group of establishment Republican that were really swearing off the Trump campaign.
KEITH: Compared to Hillary Clinton and previous Republican nominees, Trump's ability to raise large-dollar donations was downright anemic. An NPR analysis finds Clinton had more than 50,000 donations at the maximum allowed under federal law. Romney had more than 70,000 maxed-out donations. And Trump, in 2016, had just 8,000. Jack Oliver helped raise money for George W. Bush and later, Jeb Bush. But with Trump as the nominee in 2016, he sat out the general election. Now, though, Oliver is back in the fold, advising the Trump campaign on a fundraising strategy known as bundling, an effort to scoop up as many $2,800 checks as possible.
JACK OLIVER: Campaign has been very clear they want everybody that wants to be supportive of the president and vice president to have an opportunity to be involved. The campaign has been very welcoming.
KEITH: Oliver will be at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., tomorrow when the Trump campaign kicks off its bundler program. Supporters will be asked to raise at least $25,000 by gathering donations from others. At different levels of bundling, there are various perks, like lapel pins, access to conference calls with party leaders and invitations to leadership dinners. It's modeled after George W. Bush's successful bundling programs from 2000 and 2004. Kayleigh McEnany is national press secretary for the Trump 2020 campaign.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: To be a sophisticated, modern-century, state-of-the-art campaign, you have to have a bundling program. You have to have small donors. You have to have joint committees.
KEITH: In other words, it isn't 2016 anymore. To recreate Trump's win or even expand into other states, as the campaign says it intends to do, will take a lot more money. Ronna McDaniel is the Republican Party chairwoman.
RONNA MCDANIEL: There's a recognition that we're going to need a lot of capital to build a ground game that we want, and we have that opportunity now.
KEITH: An opportunity to get more people like Jack Oliver writing checks again. The campaign isn't saying how many bundlers it hopes to have or how much it hopes to raise through the program. Tamara Keith, NPR News.
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