Patterico's Pontifications


GOP Candidates And The Debate Stage: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:52 am

[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:

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.


8 Responses to “GOP Candidates And The Debate Stage: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”

  1. Ugh.

    Dana (560c99)

  2. Trump will be under Indictment #3 by August 23rd, with Indictment #4 imminent. I’ll be surprised if he shows up.
    Since Christie didn’t agree to Ronna’s pledge, I doubt he’ll show up, too, which is unfortunate.

    Paul Montagu (8f0dc7)

  3. it’s yet another sign that something is deeply wrong with our primary-election system.

    I wish people would stop blaming “the system”. There is no system that can compensate for stupid voters.

    norcal (e5b4c8)

  4. The primary election system has nothing to do with this. As NR stated, the candidates are responding to the RNC’s debate rules.

    There is no upside for Trump to participate in debates. Why should Gulliver suffer the slings and arrows of the Lilliputians?

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  5. Personally, I find combing a pyramid scheme with a political campaign refreshingly honest, at least.

    Of course, that sort of thing blew up Albania not too long ago, so we probably don’t want to go that way. But on the gripping hand, given the rest of Ramaswamy’s “platform”, I suspect he might consider that a desirable outcome.

    john (aff6cb)

  6. These schemes are most likely legal.

    Although maybe t;s never been done so directly, it is legal for a campaign or maybe a candidate, to reimburse donors, but not for another contributor.

    I think before this campaigns sold merchandise, or an opportunity to meet people (rock stars, or the candidate. The rock star’s personal appearance is not considered a campaign contribution.)

    They’re gaming the system, but the system was set up to be gamed and the RNC can’t change it without changing their rules after the fact.

    And otherwise we might be more limited in candidates for no good reason,, so it’s all a good thing.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)


    William A. Galston compares the Republican primary race for the presidential nomination in 2024 to that of the Democratic race for president in 1984.

    Yes, Walter Mondale was the leading candidate before it started and he eventually won, but, before that Gary Hart gave him a run for his money.

    Can anyone pull off a New Hampshire surprise in 2024? My money is on South Carolina’s junior senator, Tim Scott. His affable presence makes him likable on the stump, he has avoided serious mistakes and has a compelling life story as an African-American who rose from humble beginnings (“from cotton to Congress,” he often says).
    …These latent strengths won’t be activated, however, unless Mr. Scott stages an early surprise. If he can beat Mr. DeSantis for second place in Iowa, he would have a chance to do even better in New Hampshire. With no serious Democratic contest, most independents will participate in the GOP primary, and Mr. Scott could do well with them. As my colleague Elaine Kamarck has pointed out, some Trump sympathizers might vote in the Democratic contest to support Robert F. Kennedy Jr., improving Mr. Scott’s chances among Republicans.

    After New Hampshire comes South Carolina, where a home-state win could propel Mr. Scott to front-runner status, especially if most other defeated Republicans leave the race and endorse him, as most Democrats did in 2020 after Mr. Biden’s South Carolina victory…

    Which reminds me: The race for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 was pretty much over before the Covid lockdowns started.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  8. They should ask AOC how to fund raise. She raised 4 million dollars in a few days for texas storm relief. While ted cruz was checking the tranny situation in cancun.

    asset (62c320)

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