[guest post by Dana]
Motivated to meet the RNC requirements and get on the debate stage:
Vivek Ramaswamy…is launching the “Vivek Kitchen Cabinet,” a scheme that promises to pay participants 10 percent of any money they raise for his campaign. It’s the latest attention-grabbing initiative by the longshot candidate, highlighting the frantic race underway by 2024 GOP presidential contenders to build up their grassroots donor base to qualify for upcoming debates.
In Ramaswamy’s program, supporters will undergo a background check before being issued an affiliate link to share to raise money for the candidate, his general consultant, Ben Yoho, told POLITICO.
“He realized the type of money fundraisers make,” Yoho said. “He wants his supporters to have the same opportunity.”
The campaign intends to offer special incentives for top grassroots fundraisers, which advisers said could include personal calls from Ramaswamy, invitations to events and exclusive campaign merchandise. Participants, who will be paid monthly, will be considered independent contractors of Vivek 2024 and, as part of the program, must agree to pay applicable taxes.
And when you have essentially no national name recognition or presence and are desperate to raise your profile quickly, go big:
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is offering an unusual deal to donors: Anyone who sends a donation of at least $1 will get a $20 gift card in return.
The campaign’s offer is good for the first 50,000 donors — and is an unconventional bid to meet the fundraising thresholds required to be onstage for next month’s Republican primary debate…
The online donation process itself could expand Burgum’s base: When people donate, the campaign gleans their email and street addresses. Anyone who adds a phone number also agrees to receive phone calls and text messages.
As for what type of gift card is at stake, the campaign says donors “will actually get a Visa or Mastercard gift card to their mailing address.”
Even if you’re the mayor of a major city like Miami but voters outside of Florida don’t know who you are, why not have a free college giveaway:
‼️FREE COLLEGE GIVEAWAY‼️
Yes, seriously. Give $1 now to support @FrancisSuarez for President for your chance to win a FREE YEAR OF COLLEGE! 💰
— SOS America (@sosamericapac) July 13, 2023
It’s so cringe to see what are essentially unknown (outside of their state) Republican politicians this desperate to get on the debate stage, especially as we can confidently say that none of them will win the nomination. Of course, catching the eye of the would-be nominee is a play, I guess…
Anyway, this sounds about right:
[T]hey are responding to incentives. The RNC said that to qualify for the primary debates, candidates need to prove that they have 40,000 unique donors…Lesser-known candidates could try to pitch their vision for America to small-dollar donors — or they could promise free stuff. Free stuff is easier to sell.
These schemes are most likely legal. They’re just extremely embarrassing…[T]hese candidates aren’t even buying votes. They’re buying donors so that maybe they can have a chance to buy votes…
When the incentives are structured in such a way that successful conservative politicians feel the need to resort to stupid gimmicks when running for president, it’s yet another sign that something is deeply wrong with our primary-election system.
At this point, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie will be on the debate stage in August. Also, according to FiveThirtyEight’s latest polling, Trump leads with 52% support, followed by DeSantis with 21%. All other candidates continue to poll in single digits.