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Republicans Raise Funds On Impeachment

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

You might think the impeachment of a U.S. president would hurt that president's reelection efforts, but that does not seem to be the case necessarily when it comes to President Trump. The Republican National Committee announced record high fundraising numbers during the impeachment battle. Here's President Trump at a rally in Michigan right after the House voted to impeach him.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We did nothing wrong. And we have tremendous support in the Republican Party like we've never had before.

GREENE: Steven Law heads the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican superPAC. He raises money for the Republican Party. And he's back on our program. Welcome back.

STEVEN LAW: Well, thank you for having me on.

GREENE: So can you explain the ways you use impeachment as a fundraising tool? I mean, is it conversations with donors, ads? How does this work?

LAW: Well, you know, fundraising has been pretty robust all election cycle. We've found donors are really ready to get engaged. They're interested in the presidential election. They're interested in the Senate...

GREENE: But you're getting a bump here from the impeachment.

LAW: Completely. It's poured gasoline on the fire. And a lot of it is it's just a galvanizing moment. People see it as an existential threat. They want to line up and be supportive to the president. Interestingly enough, the Democrats experienced this when Republicans tried to remove Bill Clinton from office. It was the beginning of the first Democratic soft money machine, moveon.org, which was formed explicitly as a response to that. So donors get activated. They want to be involved. And we're seeing that right now.

GREENE: You know, I caught an Instagram post from President Trump yesterday. It's a photo of him with a message that says, in reality, they're not after me. They're after you. I'm just in the way. And I wondered if part of the strategy that seems to be effective right now is to say, if you don't give money, you're going down with me.

LAW: You know, well, certainly donors view what Republicans see as a highly partisan impeachment process that started on the very day that the president was inaugurated as a threat to the values that they thought they had elected when they cast their votes for Donald Trump. And so whether it's a low-dollar donor or a high-dollar donor, there's a lot of responsiveness to that particular message.

GREENE: Would you personally prefer to be going after dollars based on, you know, policy stances and issues over saying, you know, this president's being impeached, you should give money?

LAW: Well, at least with respect to our messaging, we've always made the argument because of where we sit that the Senate is the key focus. It's the last firewall. Impeachment becomes part of that argument. But for us, we're not just talking about that. We're talking about things like "Medicare for All" and the Green New Deal and noting that if for some reason we were the last wall standing, we would be the last defense against those kinds of policies. So it's a broader argument, but impeachment is one of those arguments that we can make.

GREENE: You know, Republicans used the threat of impeachment to raise money in the midterms. And your party lost, you know, some key races. So I wonder, like, does more money around this issue necessarily mean more support for the president or there's not necessarily that connection?

LAW: Yeah. I don't know whether that's a connection or not. 2018 was about a lot of different things, not just impeachment. You know, there are issues you raise money on and there's issues you campaign on.

At the end of the day, I think we'll be talking about, you know, some fairly liberal positions that most of the presidential candidates have taken. Whoever that nominee is, we'll be talking about their positions. And we'll be talking about what Republicans would do if we're able to continue to control both - at least the Senate and the White House.

GREENE: Steven Law helps raise money for the Republican Party. He's president of the Senate Leadership Fund and also American Crossroads. Thanks so much for your time, as always. We appreciate it.

LAW: Great to be on with you. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE GREG FOAT GROUP'S "THE DANCERS WALTZ") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.