Tuesday, September 17, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He went to a secret fundraiser.

Trump flew to a fundraising luncheon in California today, at which he was expected to pocket $15 million for his 2020 campaign. (For all his supposed wealth, Trump gives almost no money to his own campaign. In fact, he makes money from it, charging it top dollar for floor space that otherwise struggles to find renters in Trump tower.) 

Fundraising is a fairly normal activity for any politician, but what was unusual about Trump's trip today is that its location was kept secret, even from the gift-giving attendees, until the last minute. (It was eventually revealed to be the mansion of Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy.) 

This was an apparent attempt to save Trump the embarrassment of seeing protestors. If so, it didn't work: word leaked out in time for crowds to assemble as close to McNealy's compound as security allowed.

More importantly for attendees, the secret location helped save Trump's donors the embarrassment of being associated with him. While Trump himself is finding ways to make money for himself and his campaign, whether by steering Air Force NCOs to spend weeks' worth of government per diems at his luxury resorts, or selling overpriced straws as campaign merch, CEOs are finding that Trump and his perpetually low popularity is brand poison. 

For example, last month, the Soulcycle chain of fitness studios saw a customer revolt after one of its investors held a different fundraiser for Trump. And two weeks ago, when actress Debra Messing called for attendees at a different southern California Trump fundraiser to be named, Trump himself went nuclear, in part because Messing pointed out that other candidates' supporters aren't usually ashamed to be known as such.

Trump spoke at the event, but reporters were barred, and recording devices like cell phones were confiscated at the door, so there's no way to know what he said.

So what?

  • Candidates with nothing to hide don't generally try to physically hide their fundraising speeches.