Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shored up his campaign war chest Tuesday with a swing through Texas that did not include any public rallies.
Fresh off the second presidential debate — and still dealing with fallout from the 2005 video that showed him talking about groping women — Trump picked up millions of dollars at private fundraisers in Dallas and San Antonio to help fund his presidential bid in battleground states.
“He was very relaxed,” said Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Tim O’Hare, who was among the attendees. “He was the same Donald Trump. It wasn’t a script.”
O’Hare and others say they realize Trump isn’t the “perfect” candidate. But then again, no one is, he said.
“It’s been a different kind of election year,” O’Hare said. “Hillary Clinton would be a complete total disaster. … While Donald is not a perfect man, there’s only one perfect man and he’s not running for president.”
Another person at the fundraiser who requested anonymity because he was not cleared by the campaign to discuss the event said the day was all about raising campaign funds: “It’s a fast swing in to Texas where Texans have been hugely responsive and supportive of the Trump campaign financially. He’s coming in here to raise money to have fuel put in the campaign engine and get him back out to the swing states.”
Between both campaign stops, Trump was believed to “raise millions of dollars.”
As Trump spoke with supporters, Democrats took the candidate to task for his comments and actions.
They held press conferences before Trump’s events, saying the New York businessman “is unfit and unqualified to be president” unlike their candidate, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“This entire election cycle Donald Trump has shown us who he is,” said Manny Garcia, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “Trump only cares about Trump. His tax plan will only line his pockets not those of hardworking families, and his campaign profits from filth, hate speech, and conspiracy theories.
“No self-respecting Texas employer shares Trump’s values, and the profit from their employees hard work should never line Trump’s campaign coffers,” he said. “We urge all Texas Trump donors to reassess their support and recognize that they are better than Trump.”
Tom Mitchell, a 69-year-old Dallas man, showed up at the event to protest both Trump — and Clinton.
“I’m a moderate voter frustrated with Republicans and Democrats,” said Mitchell, a retired group insurance salesman, as security asked him to leave the property. “This year, I will either vote third party or write in Colin Powell’s name.”
Mitchell, who has written Powell’s name on the ballot for the past three presidential elections, carried signs that read “Our candidates stink! Make America smell great again” and “Trump or Hillary? Lincoln is turning over in his grave.” He wore a T-shirt that read: “The whole world is watching: No Trump, No Hillary.”
“There’s a lot of people like me out there,” he said. “We need to be more active or we are going to get more of the same.”
In Dallas, as helicopters flew overhead and police lined the street, Trump attended a highly secured private event at the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre that included a VIP reception, photo opportunities and a fundraiser.
A few people walked in wearing Trump campaign buttons. One walked in carrying a Trump-Pence sign.
Trump talked to a crowd of around 200 people about the debate, how he felt he did really well and that he is interested to see whether new polls show that.
He also touched on trade deals, the trade imbalance and how, when the campaign is over, he likely will have spent $100 million of his own money on the campaign.
After the event, Trump tweeted: “Thank you Texas!” along with a reminder that Tuesday was the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 8 election.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who heads Trump’s Texas campaign, accompanied him to both fundraisers.
Patrick is among those who condemned the video released last week that showed Trump talking about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman.
Trump posted a video on social media apologizing for the remarks — an apology Patrick said was needed — and, despite calls from GOP leaders to drop out of the race, has firmly remained in the race for the White House. During Sunday’s debate, Trump called his comments “locker room talk.”
Although Patrick said there’s no excuse “to ever talk about women in such a crude and demeaning way,” the Texas conservative notes that he still supports Trump because he’s a better choice than Clinton.
A number of Republicans have withdrawn support for Trump’s candidacy after the video went public last week.
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, is among those who have said Trump “should remove himself from consideration as Commander in Chief.”
Others, such as U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, have said they don’t condemn Trump’s comments on the video but realize, as Trump has said, that the presidential candidate has been changed by this campaign.
“There is no doubt Mr. Trump remains the best candidate for president,” Burgess has said.
Trump’s Texas visit comes as conservative radio show host Glenn Beck has said he understands each person must make a decision in the November race, and everyone “must decide what is a bridge too far.”
While he didn’t endorse Clinton, he said he understands when people, such as U.S. Rep. Mike Lee, cannot support Trump.
“It is not acceptable to ask a moral, dignified man to cast his vote to help elect an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity,” Beck wrote on Facebook recently. “If the consequence of standing against Trump and for principles is indeed the election of Hillary Clinton, so be it. At least it is a moral, ethical choice.”
Republicans who attended Trump’s fundraiser said a number of supporters began calling to attend the fundraiser after Sunday night’s debate.
“It clearly was a shot of momentum into the campaign,” one person who attended said. “I think people sat back, took everything in and at the end of the day realized we are choosing a president, not a pope, a priest or a rabbi.
“There’s a clear distinction between the two candidates and who you want to be led by for the next four or eight years.”
The cost to get into the Dallas event stretched from $2,700 per person, or $5,400 per couple, to $446,500 raised or donated by a couple.