Trump Backers Want Extra $1 Billion to Blunt Bloomberg Spending

Members of President Donald Trump’s re-election team and some of the GOP’s biggest fundraisers are discussing a new goal of raising an extra $1 billion to compete with Michael Bloomberg’s record campaign spending, according to two bundlers who have been part of the discussions.

Bloomberg’s pledge to spend up to $1 billion to defeat Trump regardless of whether he wins the nomination is spurring Republicans to consider ways to keep up, including getting conservative billionaires to make much larger donations to Trump-related super-PACs.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser who is a senior adviser to the campaign, and Tommy Hicks, co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, have taken part in the discussions, the fundraisers said.

Kushner, the RNC and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The former New York mayor has blanketed the airwaves with more than $400 million in advertising, helping him climb in national polls. He qualified for his first debate of the cycle Wednesday in Las Vegas, and he’s third in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, trailing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.

(Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

Trump’s campaign and the RNC have boasted about their strong fund-raising, regularly declaring record hauls and comparing their numbers to those of former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election. But the prospect of facing an opponent with far more money at his disposal has forced Trump’s re-election team to consider ways to level the playing field.

Republicans will look to super-PAC donors to give more, raise more money at high-dollar events headlined by Trump, and expand other efforts to bring in additional money.

One way to match Bloomberg’s spending is to raise more money from a handful of billionaires, the people said. They speculated that casino owner Sheldon Adelson, Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, Blackstone Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Stephen Schwarzman, and Continental Resources Inc. founder Harold Hamm could be asked to up their donations.

The big donors or their representatives were not involved in the talks. Campaign and Republican National Committee officials cannot solicit multimillion donations to super-PACs. ,The purpose is not to solicit donations but to discuss strategy, the people said.

Incumbent presidents usually enjoy a financial advantage over their opponents. Trump’s re-election committees and the Republican National Committee said they have combined to raise $525 million so far in the election cycle, and ended January with more than $200 million cash on hand. That’s far more than the $121 million that Sanders, the top Democratic fund-raiser, has taken in.

If Trump is outspent by Bloomberg and the Democrats, it wouldn’t be the first time. In 2016, Hillary Clinton raised $564 million to Trump’s $333 million.

— With assistance by Jordan Fabian

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