With some children based in the White House and others in his business, Trump is bringing them together for a more structured family reelection effort than he ran in 2016.
Hours before President Donald Trump kicked off his reelection bid last month with a Florida rally, a handful of his adult children took the mics in a Ritz Carlton Orlando ballroom to pump up Republicans for a fundraising call day.
When a fundraiser scored a particularly high donation by phone, one of the Trump kids in the room — Donald Trump Jr. or Eric Trump, accompanied by Kimberly Guilfoyle and Lara Trump — would hop on the call to say thanks, or just make small talk. At one point, Don Jr. joked to the group of roughly 50 fundraisers and Republican National Committee staffers that whichever fundraising team scored the highest dollar figure for the day as part of a competition could take home the pregnant Lara Trump’s baby. The crowd laughed.
The Trump kids were on hand to motivate the volunteers and woo high-dollar donors. It paid off. The campaign announced the following day it had raised a jaw-dropping $24.8 million in less than 24 hours to support Trump’s reelection. One Trump adviser estimated between $8 and $10 million of that haul came from the three-hour phone-a-thon, with Don. Jr. helping to close roughly $3 million in donations.
The Ritz event highlighted the outsized role the Trump family will play in the 2020 campaign, from helping to run behind-the-scenes operations to promoting Trump policies on TV to headlining events, dinners and rallies. Even as the campaign staffs up with strategists, lawyers and communication operatives, Trump family members remain the people the president trusts the most and those he looks to for keeping spending in check. The same holds true in the White House, where the responsibilities of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner only seem to grow.
“The president obviously has the star power, but the second best to him is his next of kin,” said one Republican close to the White House. “The only person who can speak for Trump is a Trump.”
While the 2016 Trump campaign also enlisted family members, the candidate at the time had other trusted advisers like Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway leading the charge. Now the heavyweights are the family members themselves — but this time they have more resources, organization and infrastructure to solidify their special status and eliminate the freewheeling, ragtag vibe from the last campaign.
This coming week will showcase the extent of the Trump children’s highly visible role in the 2020 campaign. Don Jr. and his girlfriend Guilfoyle are scheduled to headline two fundraisers for Trump Pence Victory on July 18-19 in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, Calif., according to invitations obtained by POLITICO. Ticket prices for the dinner and luncheon range from $15,000 to $35,000 per couple.
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