WASHINGTON (AP) — Scranton isn’t a standard stop on the Democratic fundraising circuit. Yet Hillary Clinton put the working class Pennsylvania town on her itinerary — several times.
The Democratic presidential nominee and her family have made four visits to Scranton donors since launching her campaign last August, raising millions of dollars in a former industrial city more known for needing economic aid than giving it out.
“Last July, we were all pinching ourselves and saying it’s a once in a lifetime experience, but then she came back,” said Grace McGregor, whose parents hosted an event Monday at their home.
Clinton is leaving no fundraiser behind as she crisscrosses the country scooping up cash. She’s already been to 10 fundraisers in the first half of the month, and some of the biggest events are yet to come. In fact, she is on track to top the $90 million she raised for her campaign and Democratic allies in July.
August has always been one of the best months to raise money because voters tend to be more focused on their summer vacations than politics, giving candidates more time to woo donors.
Clinton definitely got that memo.
Donors can rock out to Cher at a Cape Cod “summer celebration” on Sunday and close out the month by dancing with Jimmy Buffett in the Hamptons. In between, during a Clinton California swing, they can talk politics with actor Leonardo DiCaprio, retired basketball star Magic Johnson or Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Why so many fundraisers?
“People in Montauk don’t go to Fire Island,” said Alan Patricof, a longtime Clinton donor who is co-hosting one of many summertime fundraisers in the Hamptons. “So there are events to attract anybody who’s interested in being a supporter for Hillary.”
Clinton has some heavyweight assistants on the cash trail, including two former presidents, her husband Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama.
“If we are not running scared until the day after the election, we are going to be making a grave mistake,” Obama warned donors on a balmy Monday evening in Martha’s Vineyard.
Running mate Tim Kaine has proven to a strong fundraiser in his own right, already headlining a dozen events from small towns in New Hampshire to the private dining space of a celebrity chef in New Orleans.
Fort Lauderdale attorney Mitchell Berger, who hosted Kaine’s first fundraiser after he was picked as Clinton’s running mate, said some of the 60 donors in the room hadn’t met the Virginia senator. “For the people who were seeing him for the first time, the glowing previews were confirmed,” Berger said.
Clinton has made ample use of campaign finance limits that have loosened considerably in the past six years.
Although donors can give a maximum of $2,700 to the candidate’s campaign, they can give far more to the party through new accounts that Congress opened up. And a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 lifted the overall cap on what donors can give in an election year — meaning Clinton and the party have no reservations about asking for as much as they can.
At least five August events have hit the seven-figure benchmark. Among them, a 60-person dinner where the minimum gift was $33,400 in an “estates only” area of Greenwich, Connecticut.
Last week, Clinton’s cash express stopped in Miami Beach for two events. The larger one included 100 attendees donating at least $2,700. Later that evening, Clinton hosted a more intimate group of 30, each of whom gave at least $50,000.
Clinton’s labors on the fundraising circuit have kept her ahead of Republican rival Donald Trump. But he unexpectedly came close to rivaling her haul in July, raising more than $80 million for his campaign and supportive Republican Party groups.
Having spent more than $50 million of his own money during the primary, Trump had no fundraising operation throughout the primary, meaning he was building one from scratch as Clinton’s finely tuned machine was cranking out results.
Along with running mate Mike Pence, Trump has lined up at least two dozen August fundraisers, an increased pace over July and June.
Trump sees his greatest fundraising numbers not from high-dollar dinner events at posh homes — though he’s doing that, too — but from small donations pouring in online. Trump said more than $64 million of his total came from millions of Americans giving online or by mailing in checks.
Unlike Clinton, Trump’s campaign does not provide background information about any fundraising activities. Neither Clinton nor Trump is allowing reporters in the room for the fundraisers, a change in protocol from the last presidential election.
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