AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — The Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, fired his campaign manager Monday. The abrupt departure signals a shift in strategy as Trump’s camp looks to persuade high-dollar Republican donors to contribute to the campaign.
The uncertainly and the controversy that surrounds the Trump campaign has some of the GOP’s top donors uneasy about opening up their check books.
“I think Donald Trump has tapped into a populous movement that really has an energy behind it that money can’t even buy,” said Gaylord Hughey Jr.
The former Jeb Bush backer said his first Presidential pick was the wrong choice and when the Trump campaign called, he decided to hear them out.
An oil and gas attorney in Tyler, Texas, Hughey met with Trump in New York City in early June. Hughey said he left that meeting “very impressed,” and decided to join Trump’s team.
Now, it’s Hughey’s responsibility to get the state’s major Republican donors to get behind Trump.
The billionaire doesn’t seem concerned about money, Trump said if the Republicans decide not to contribute, he will pay for his own campaign. “I’d love to do that,” Trump told a Nevada crowd Saturday.
Party officials estimate general election costs will be more than $1 billion. According Trump insiders, the campaign aims to raise half that with a goal of $500 million.
“Donald Trump should not have the full responsibility of funding a national campaign,” Hughey said. “I think we all as citizens have really a duty to participate and help these folks that are willing to sacrifice for our country.”
Hughey compared Trump’s following to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and called Trump an “agent for change.”
Hughey said, “There may be risk in that but I think the risk is acceptable to and we should give him a chance to run our country.”
Trump self-funded his campaign during the primary season but has since ramped up fundraising efforts. He appeared at a series of private fundraisers in Texas last week and reportedly took in $8 million over the course of nine days.
Trump’s likely opponent in the general election, Hillary Clinton took in $27 million in May and her campaign has been fundraising all season long.
“Pick any candidate you like, you’re going to have statements or actions that you’re doing to disagree with, particularly on a national level where there’s a diverse community you’re speaking to and you know, you have your own cultural biases,” Hughey said.
He believes it’s still early and that Trump will tone down his rhetoric to attract more donors. “I think he’ll use more caution as he goes about presenting himself to the country,” said Hughey.
A different kind of candidate, Hughey said Trump brings in different kinds of donors.
Some of the traditional Republican donors with the deepest pockets are not ready to embrace Trump as the party’s nominee but Hughey said first time donors are stepping in to fill that void with smaller but more frequent online donations.
Texas Republicans are slowly but surely coming around to support Trump, Hughey said, and he is confident the Lone Star State will be Trump Country by November.
“Texas will be squarely behind Trump and it will be brightly red on Election Day,” said Hughey.