ORLANDO, Fla. – “Trump needs you,” one fundraising email implored.
“President Trump’s Legacy is in your hands," another pleaded.
Others advertised “Miss Me Yet?” T-shirts featuring Donald Trump's smiling face.
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, when the GOP hopes to regain control of at least one chamber of Congress.
But there's a problem: Trump himself. In his first speech since leaving office, the former president encouraged loyalists to give directly to him, essentially bypassing the traditional groups that raise money for GOP candidates.
“There’s only one way to contribute to our efforts to elect ‘America First’ Republican conservatives and, in turn, to make America great again," Trump said Sunday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. “And that’s through Save America PAC and donaldjtrump.com.”
The comment 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 as he tries to consolidate power.
That could help him add to an already commanding war chest, aiding his effort to influence the party. Save America has more than $80 million cash on hand, including $3 million raised after the CPAC speech, according to a person familiar with the total.