"Trump needs you," one fundraising email implored. "President Trump's Legacy is in your hands," another pleaded. While some Republicans grapple with how fiercely to embrace the former president, the organizations charged with raising money for the party are going all in. The Republican National Committee and the party's congressional campaign arms are eager to cash in on Trump's lure with small donors ahead of next year's midterm elections, but there's a problem in the AP's view: Trump himself. In his first speech since leaving office, the former president encouraged loyalists to give directly to him, saying, "There's only one way to contribute to our efforts to elect 'America First' Republican conservatives and, in turn, to make America great again. And that's through Save America PAC and donaldjtrump.com." More:
- Interpretation: The comment, made Sunday at the annual CPAC in Orlando, Fla., was particularly notable because Trump is generally loath to ask for money in person. It amounts to the latest salvo in the battle to shape the future of the GOP, with Trump making clear that he holds no allegiance to the party's traditional fundraising operation.
- Current war chest: He has an already-commanding war chest: Save America has more than $80 million cash on hand, including $3 million raised after the CPAC speech, per an AP source.
- A PAC change: Before making his money pitch on Sunday, Trump's team quietly updated its fundraising filings. They converted his Save America leadership PAC to an entity that can also support other candidates. Some of that money could help Trump settle scores with incumbent members of Congress who've crossed him. In his Sunday speech, Trump read aloud the names of every Republican who voted against him and called for them to be defeated.
- Some aren't concerned: But others sought to downplay the apparent tensions. They noted, for instance, that Trump is scheduled to speak at the RNC's spring donor retreat—a major fundraising source—in April in Palm Beach, Fla.
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