Donald Trump may still be surging in the polls among likely Republican primary voters. But there’s one powerful group of GOP donors that has yet to be dazzled by the real estate mogul’s “tremendous energy.”
The Club for Growth, a conservative political advocacy group, announced the release of a $1 million ad buy on Tuesday that will attack Trump’s record of supporting higher taxes, single-payer health care and eminent domain, among other economic policies. The campaign marks the first effort by an outside GOP group to knock down the party’s presidential front-runner.
Speaking to a roomful of reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Club for Growth president David McIntosh said Trump had “the worst record of the entire field, with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders, on economic policies.”
“Donald Trump is running as an outsider, channeling the real frustration that Americans have that Washington leaders have not gotten the job done,” McIntosh said. “In reality, Donald Trump is the worst kind of politician who’ll say anything to get elected.”
As part of the $1 million campaign, McIntosh unveiled two 30-second television ads set to air on broadcast, cable and satellite TV in Iowa, as well as on digital platforms over the next several weeks. One spot criticizes Trump’s support of a 2005 Supreme Court case in favor of eminent domain, while the other compares Trump’s positions on economic policies to those of Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
“Frankly, it’s astonishing to me that he’s even running as a Republican,” said McIntosh. He said the group was open to collaborating with other super PACs, or independent organizations that can accept unlimited sums of money, in order make voters understand Trump’s record.
“He’s playing them for chumps,” McIntosh said. “They’ll believe anything he says, when in fact the record shows he’s done just the opposite. He believes just the opposite.”
Trump’s feud with the Club for Growth has been going on since he announced his candidacy in June. For months, Trump has painted the organization as an element of the Washington establishment that he seeks to destroy, while Club for Growth has routinely trashed Trump as someone who should not be taken seriously. A day after Trump announced his candidacy, Trump told Bloomberg TV’s With All Due Respect that Club for Growth was attacking him because he did not heed a request to donate $1 million. Trump also handed over a letter from McIntosh that included the solicitation.
Shortly after McIntosh’s press conference Tuesday, Trump cited the letter again on Twitter and said Club for Growth was “little respected.”