An indictment for any alleged crime, the accompanying perp walk and ensuing court hearings may sound like a death knell for a politician on the ballot. But for Donald Trump — hardly a normal politician — it’s a gift.
The former president has long thrived on chaos and turmoil as he’s successfully portrayed himself to his supporters as a victim of the establishment, the “deep state,” liberal forces and the mainstream media.
And Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign quickly capitalized on the announcement Thursday that he would become the first former president in U. S. history to be charged with a crime.
“The Radical Left – the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this country — have INDICTED me in a disgusting witch hunt,” Trump claimed in one of a handful of fundraising emails his campaign committees sent to supporters in the hours after Thursday’s breaking news.
“Please make a contribution — of truly any amount — to defend our movement from the never-ending witch hunts and WIN the WHITE HOUSE in 2024.”
The Trump campaign announced on Friday evening that they hauled in over $4 million in fundraising following the indictment announcement. The campaign touted the grassroots nature of the donations – with an average contribution of $38 – and that a quarter of the money came from first-time donors to the Trump campaign.
Word of Trump’s indictment came on the eve of the final day of fundraising in the first quarter of the year, and the surge in contributions should boost the former president’s campaign cash numbers when they’re likely revealed in the coming days.
Trump is expected in New York City Tuesday after a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him. He allegedly gave hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to keep her quiet ahead of that year’s presidential election over her claims she had sexual encounters years earlier with Trump. The former president denies sleeping with Daniels and denies falsifying business records to keep the payment concealed.
In the hours after the media frenzy, nearly all of Trump’s actual and potential rivals for the GOP nomination defended Trump, most charging that the move by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was a “political prosecution.”
The indictment firmly puts the 2024 spotlight back on Trump — where he wants it — and will make it more difficult for any of his rivals to gain traction, effectively freezing Trump’s position as the clear front-runner during the early legs of the primary battle.
“In the short term, there’s a rallying effect, there’s a fundraising effect, which Trump is going to fully employ,” longtime Republican strategist David Kochel, a veteran of numerous presidential and Iowa-based campaigns, told Fox News.
South Carolina-based conservative consultant Dave Wilson noted that “it gives Trump a bump in the polls. It’s a natural thing because he’s getting news coverage again.”
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With the indictment looming, Trump had seen his lead in the polls over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis grow in the most recent surveys. Among those polls is one from Fox News released Wednesday that indicated Trump’s lead over DeSantis had doubled over the past month, from 15 to 30 points.
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