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Trump stops holding high-dollar fundraisers that were raising big cash for the GOP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, in Tallahassee, Fla. (Evan Vucci / AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, in Tallahassee, Fla. (Evan Vucci / AP)
By Matea Gold Washington Post

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has stopped holding events for his high-dollar fundraising operation for the rest of the campaign, an unusual move that deals another serious blow to the GOP’s effort to finance its get-out-the-vote operation before Election Day.

Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s national finance chairman, said in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday that Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the party and the campaign, held its last formal fundraiser on Oct. 19. The luncheon was in Las Vegas on the day of the final presidential debate.

“We’ve kind of wound down,” Mnuchin said, referring to formal fundraisers. “But the online fundraising continues to be strong.”

While Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is headlining her last fundraiser Tuesday night in Miami, her campaign has scheduled 41 other events between now and Nov. 3 featuring high-profile surrogates such as her daughter, Chelsea, running mate Tim Kaine and the entertainer Cher, according to a schedule sent to donors this weekend.

Mnuchin said the Trump campaign decided to keep the candidate’s final weeks focused on taking his message to the voters in person rather than on raising money. The GOP candidate held a small Trump Victory event in Florida this week, and there may be a handful of more high-dollar fundraisers in coming days featuring Trump surrogates, including his son Donald Jr., according to people familiar with the internal discussions. But Mnuchin said “there is virtually nothing planned.”

“We have minimized his fundraising schedule over the last month to emphasize his focus on political (events),” Mnuchin said. “Unlike Hillary, who has been fundraising and not out and about, he has constantly been out and about.”

Mnuchin noted that the Trump campaign continues to help bring in donations for the party from individual donors who are writing big checks, as well as through online contributions. “We continue to do fundraising with the party,” he said.

But Trump’s decision effectively turns off one of the main spigots to the Republican National Committee, which collected $40 million through Trump Victory as of Sept. 30. The party has devoted a large share of the funds to pay for its national voter mobilization program to benefit the entire Republican ticket.

RNC officials said that party leaders, including Chairman Reince Priebus, are continuing to bring in resources for the party. “The RNC continues to fund raise for the entire GOP ticket,” said spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.

Mnuchin said Trump does not need high-dollar fundraisers, because his campaign is being buoyed by online donations, which he said are on track to hit a record in October.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with how the fundraising has gone,” he said, adding: “We have big media buys, we have a terrific ground game.”

But the RNC gets only 20 percent of the money that Trump raises online in conjunction with the party, while the vast majority of the big checks contributed to Trump Victory are routed to the party.

Trump, who did not begin fundraising in earnest until late May, has lagged far behind his Democratic rival. As of Sept. 30, his campaign had raised $219 million to Clinton’s $499 million.

Still, Mnuchin said, “we couldn’t be happier with the resources.” He said that the campaign held a series of high-dollar events earlier this month and followed up after the Las Vegas debate with a day of phone calls to major donors to secure contributions.

Trump has also boosted his bid with his own resources. But while the businessman has repeatedly vowed to put $100 million into the effort, campaign finance reports show that he has given just $56 million so far.

Mnuchin declined to comment on when – or if – Trump intends to put in the remaining $44 million. “He has been very supportive of the campaign with his contributions,” Mnuchin said.

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