Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made a rare appearance at party fundraiser on Wednesday, boosting a county GOP group while he is on the brink of dramatically expanding his own fundraising efforts for what portends to be a wildly expensive general election campaign.
But if the Long Island, New York event was meant to act as a sneak preview of what a newly honed Trump fundraising pitch will look like, it’s clear the celebrity businessman does not plan to change his brash, showman-like approach that is the hallmark of the campaign rallies that are the centerpiece of his campaign.
He taunted his defeated Republican rivals. He told the crowd that it would grow “so tired of winning” while he was in the White House they’d beg him to lose once in a while to keep things interesting. And he mocked his likely November opponent Hillary Clinton’s loss in the West Virginia primary, saying “she got her ass kicked last night.”
And he appealed to the Long Island crowd, gathered at a suburban country club just a dozen or so miles from where the celebrity businessman grew up in an outlying neighborhood of New York City.
“These are my people,” he declared to cheers from the approximately 2,000 people who paid $200 each to attend the Nassau County GOP’s annual “Patriots Reception” dinner. He then boldly predicted that he would be victorious this November in New York, a Democratic stronghold for generations.
“I think we could win New York State,” he said. “And if we win New York State, the election is over.”
Trump mixed in a few local flourishes — including suggesting a Long Island construction company could win the contract to build his proposed Mexican border wall — but largely delivered the same style of speech he has been giving across the nation, including at a handful of fundraisers, since he launched his unlikely presidential campaign 11 months ago.
It remains to be seen if he’ll change his approach when he begins more aggressively asking for money for his general election bid.
Trump had made it a point of pride to note that he has largely self-funded his campaign to this point and has been able to eschew time-consuming fundraising. But, just hours before he spoke on Long Island, his team booked his first campaign fundraiser, set to be held later this month in Los Angeles.
The Republican standard-bearer has also begun to dramatically expand his fundraising team and his newly named national finance chairman, Steven Mnuchin, said Wednesday that the campaign and Republican Party are “very, very close” to inking a joint fund-raising deal.