A pro-Donald Trump super PAC is planning an extensive support operation for the GOP front-runner — whether he likes it or not.
Great America PAC, founded by Jewelry Exchange CEO William Doddridge and former Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer, is going on the air in Wisconsin this weekend with a positive ad aimed at female voters. It features a mother standing in her kitchen touting Trump's national security bona-fides.
But the ad is not all the group is planning, spokesman Jesse Benton said — they’re hoping to become the official pro-Trump super PAC if and when the real-estate mogul makes it to the general election.
“Trump has acknowledged its going to have to be all hands on deck when he wins the nomination. We believe we’ll be endorsed and ready to go when he is the nominee,” Benton said. “We’re getting things ready to go…so when Trump’s ready to flip the switch, we’re ready to go and there’s no curve to ramp up.”
The group is at work on many of the traditional activities that super PACs have taken over in recent cycles since their creation six years ago. The group is planning to air positive ads highlighting Trump’s strengths and casting him as a “unifier” in upcoming primary states. They are primarily focusing on the Atlantic coastal primaries — New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. While they’re mostly focused on pushing a positive message, Benton said the super PAC is not opposed to airing contrast ads “where appropriate,” though they won’t be “dark and sinister” attack ads aimed directly at Trump’s opponents.
In addition to advertising, Great America PAC is building a data program to help identify and target potential Trump supporters, as well as volunteers for his campaign, working to build a small-dollar donor base to support Trump, reaching out to big-dollar donors, setting up their own finance committee and helping to “supplement the delegate process” to make sure Trump locks down as many committed delegates as he can.
Benton said the group already has a few big-dollar donors lined up, one of which will be revealed in their next FEC report. At least one is a major GOP donor “I believe you will recognize.”
But for now the focus is on Wisconsin, where three polls out this week showed Trump either tied with or trailing behind opponent Ted Cruz, and where anti-Trump forces have dropped millions in attack ads on the frontrunner. Recent polls have also shown his popularity sinking. His disapproval rating hit new lows, with two-thirds of registered voters nationwide viewing him negatively in a recent NBC News/WSJ poll.
Benton said Great America PAC hasn't done any internal polling yet, but the public polls were enough to make them feel Trump “needed a little help pushing back” on the negative attacks.
“We do think Trump could use a little wind at his back right now. They’ve done a tremendous job so far, but right now it’s Trump against the world,” he said, noting Trump’s getting attacked by both Democrats and Republicans.
“He’s in a two-front war and that’s gonna wear anybody down if gone unchecked. We’re proud to play a little bit of a role in putting some wind in his sales and helping to keep the Trump ship moving forward.”
Part of Trump’s appeal, however, has been his stated refusal to accept donations from special interest groups and big-money donors. Over the course of 2015, about a third of Trump’s campaign funds came from donations. But Trump is largely self-funding his campaign, a fact he frequently touts on the campaign trail as evidence that he can’t be bought and is beholden to the American people. And he’s disavowed supportive super PACs in the past — last October, Trump’s campaign lawyer sent notices to nine super PACs telling them to return donors’ money.
But Benton said even if Trump asks Great America PAC to stop its activities, “we wouldn’t plan on it."
“We haven’t gotten a [cease and desist] letter. If we did, we have our constitutional right to our free speech and we’d do what we wanna do. We respect his right to campaign as he sees fit, and we’re going to campaign as we see fit,” he said.