Clinton asks Romney’s allies for cash to stop Trump – Politico
LOS ANGELES — Hillary Clinton’s team is on the market for more millionaires. This time, Mitt Romney’s millionaires.
After successfully encouraging disaffected, high-profile Republicans to publicly disavow their party’s nominee, Clinton’s campaign in the last two weeks has launched a coordinated effort to convince conservatives to give money to the only woman standing in Donald Trump’s way, and to get their friends to do the same.
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The effort began Aug. 12, when Clinton finance director Dennis Cheng wrote a 1,200-word email to the candidate’s top fundraisers, describing how they could win over GOP and independent contributors. That email included a sample letter fundraisers could send Republican prospects and presents potential aisle-crossers the option to donate or raise either $10,000, $27,000, $50,000, or $100,000 for the Clinton operation.
In a pitch delivered one fundraiser to another, Clinton’s wealthiest Democratic allies are targeting their friends and colleagues in Republican fundraising networks including Romney’s. They’re asking for direct contributions to the campaign and an assist in bundling big-dollar donations from other anti-Trump Republicans.
The political opening to launch what Clinton’s team is now calling the Together for America Finance Council became clear to her campaign during the Democratic National Convention, when former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, an independent, and a handful of Republicans spoke for Clinton.
“You saw a light get switched on over the two weeks of the conventions,” said one high-level Democratic fundraiser affiliated with Clinton’s finance operation. The choice to specifically target Republican money grew out of the broader push to win verbal support of big-name Republicans who remained out of step with Trump: there was a clear chance, say political cash operatives aligned with both Clinton and Romney, to monetize it while depriving Republicans of campaign money they would usually be able to rely on.
According to Democratic and Republican fundraisers involved in this nascent effort, no two prospect pitches have been exactly alike but the conversations typically open with condemnations of Trump before shifting to a discussion meant to convince potential donors that Clinton would be better for business than Trump even though she moved left on trade and other issues during the primary.
One long-time Clinton fundraiser described the pitch, which starts: “I normally would not be approaching you for money, but I know where your heart is, and what you want to see for your party.
“Who would have ever thought you could convince Republicans to give money to Hillary Clinton in order to save the soul of the party?” that fundraiser said.
Certainly, Clinton’s team has not seen — and is not expecting — a sudden flood of Republican support, particularly since the Romney ally-targeting program is piecemeal rather than one centralized mission to win over his team. Some Republicans have informed Clinton fundraisers that they would be comfortable donating $2,700 but not bundling while others told POLITICO they had not been contacted and would not be interested, even if they are not supporting Trump.
But the Democratic outreach is making waves in Romney’s circles, the GOP donors said.
Already, Clinton’s team has won over business executive Meg Whitman, a close friend of Romney’s who was a major part of his political finance team. The Democrat has also hooked Romney finance council members David Nierenberg and Harry Sloan, the latter of whom wrote a $33,400 check for Clinton and the Democratic Party.
Jim Cicconi, an AT&T executive and veteran of both the George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan White Houses who is now supporting Clinton, told POLITICO he is planning to host an event for Clinton along with some of his Democratic colleagues. Until now, he has largely been involved in policy, not fundraising, discussions with the Democratic campaign.
“I certainly did my best to raise some money for Romney and contributed,” he said, and now “I will certainly be making some calls and sending some notes out” for Clinton.
“If Trump’s team had been organized, effective, or putting the party and winning above pettiness, they would have immediately worked — after he became the Republican nominee — through a list of his opponent’s supporters,” explained Republican lawyer Charlie Spies, Romney’s chief financial officer and counsel in 2008 before helping launch his super PAC in 2012. “Instead, they did not. They also made clear: Mr. Trump does not reach out to people, you’re either on board or you’re not.”
Cheng’s letter to Clinton’s finance committee lists examples high-profile Republicans and independents already backing Clinton, and encourages fundraisers to reach out to other conservatives in the personal and professional networks. He also offers the finance committee sample language to use during the pitch.
“A growing number of Republicans and Independents are stepping forward to endorse Hillary Clinton for President. They believe that, given the stakes of this election, it is imperative that we put country before party,” reads Cheng’s sample letter. “The broad array of bipartisan officials endorsing Hillary includes leaders in the business community, national security, foreign and economic policy, academia, entertainment, civil society, community-based groups, and current and former elected officials. Voters are increasingly seeing that Hillary understands the complex and volatile world we live in and has the experience and temperament to be President and Commander in Chief, and Donald Trump does not.”
“I hope that you will stand with Hillary, by joining the Together for America Finance Council,” it continues after quoting Clinton, Whitman, and Bloomberg. “Members of the Council will help raise the resources Hillary needs to win. This election is too critical to stay on the sidelines.”
Clinton’s regional finance directors are focused on securing $2,700-level GOP donors who might want a chance to attend a Clinton fundraising event for the first time while the candidate, former President Bill Clinton, and running mate Tim Kaine criss-cross the country in an August blitz.
The push for higher-dollar donations, meanwhile, has largely been put on the shoulders of some of the Democratic Party’s own big donors and raisers — who say they expect to see some long-time GOP members donating tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to Clinton before long.
Nonetheless, it remains an uphill battle to win over even some of the staunchest #NeverTrump Republicans. There’s a difference, many of them say, between wanting to stop Trump and actively stuffing Clinton’s campaign coffers as Democrats look for coattails that could win them back control of the Senate and potentially the House of Representatives.
Not that any of them expect the push to slow down anytime soon.
“It’s Campaign 101 to try and go after the opposite party to get them to [support] you. It erodes confidence in the other party’s nominee,” said Fred Malek, a veteran Republican fundraiser who’s been involved with the party’s presidents and campaigns since Richard Nixon.
“If I were in their shoes, I would do that.”