After a high-profile vow to self-fund his presidential campaign with up to a billion dollars of his own money, Donald Trump now says he’ll happily take your donations.
The billionaire real estate tycoon who estimates his own wealth to be $10 billion is now taking donations in earnest, he said on Monday, just two months into what’s likely been an extremely expensive presidential campaign.
The Republican president contender takes a private jet everywhere he goes and last week, he offered kids at the Iowa state fair a helicopter ride. Despite this, Trump’s still trying to portray himself as an outsider who isn’t beholden to donors, lobbyists, and the traditional power brokers, so he says he’ll only take donations if there’s “no strings attached.”
“Only if there’s no strings whatsoever attached,” he said on “Fox & Friends.”
“The only strings attached is I wanna make America great again,” Trump added.
The business mogul offered no explanation of his decision to fundraise, but briefly said his decision was “from a practical standpoint,” before quickly changing the topic to describe a woman who donated $7.30 as “the cutest thing ever.”
Over the last two months, Trump boasted at length about his decision to self-fund: “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich,” he said during his rambling, off-script presidential speech in June.
Despite the bluster, Trump was quietly fundraising at the same time. His homepage included a prominent “donate” option when it launched, and Politico reports he attended a super PAC fundraiser in July. In early August, he began sending out fundraising requests to conservative mailing lists.
In one email to the Daily Caller’s mailing list that was obtained by msnbc, he asked for donations to “prove” that he had grassroots support, vowing to match all donations. “I am very rich and I created something very special,” he wrote. “Stand with me today and send a powerful message to the establishment by supporting my campaign.”
BuzzFeed reports that two other mailing lists received similar requests.
Now, as he joins the rest of the Republican field in fundraising, Trump says he’s still different.
“I feel sort of foolish, people are coming to me offering millions and millions of dollars. I turned down a $5 million donation the other day from a lobbyist I know, but I know him and it’s only strings attached with him,” Trump said. “I know many of the people who have given to [Republican hopeful Jeb] Bush, they didn’t give because they like his hair color, they did it for only one reason, total strings attached, they want what they want.”
Asked why the wealthy businessman was seeking out donors last week, Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks pointed to a speech Trump gave in New Hampshire.
“I don’t want money from people. Other than small donations, because I have so many people — one woman sent $7, another sent $20. I love that where they invest in my campaign,” Trump said a week before announcing his intentions to actively seek donations. “They invest. I don’t want that for the money. I want that because psychologically, I think it’s great.”