Billionaire real estate mogul and presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to dominate the GOP field both in hurling insults at his fellow Republicans and in the polls, but now it appears his rivals have decided that if they’re going down, they’re going down swinging.
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The Fox Business Network has learned that at least some of the campaigns are discussing an attack-ads blitz against The Donald in the coming weeks, according to several financial executives who have direct ties to the various campaigns. These people tell Fox Business that the campaigns of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in particular are currently raising money with aims to hit Trump on various issues such as his controversial comments about immigration, as well as his record as a businessman, in these ads.
The campaign of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul may also follow suit, they say. Those likely to stay out of the anti-Trump attacks include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has a similar position to Trump on immigration and is looking to siphon some of Trump’s support.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, meanwhile, is expected to spend money from his enormous war chest, which includes more than $100 million in so-called Super PAC money. But the Bush spending is expected to focus on his record in politics and underscore his skills as a candidate rather than in attacking rivals, fundraisers tell Fox Business. Super PACS are fundraising vehicles that can raise unlimited amounts of money but can’t work directly with campaigns.
Even so, the discussions of a possible ad push underscores the growing unease within the GOP establishment with Trump’s insurgent campaign. Trump’s poll numbers have solidified and he remains the leading candidate in the Republican field according to most recent polls, despite his controversial remarks on immigration, his broadsides against Sen. John McCain’s war record and other personal attacks against GOP contenders,
But GOP donors tell Fox Business Trump’s poll numbers will begin to falter once the negative ads begin to appear, as they expected, after Labor Day.
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“We’re in the dead of summer so no one is going spend money now,” said one GOP Wall Street fundraiser. “But right after Labor Day, the anti-Trump ads are going to begin, and these guys plan to dig into everything.”
A spokesman for Trump had no immediate comment; a press official for Rubio said, “We have no plans to run any attack ads against anyone, including Trump.” A spokeswoman from Walker's campaign said the buzz about running attack ads "isn't true," while a press official for Paul didn’t return requests for comment.
A Bush campaign spokeswoman said there’s “zero truth” to the notion that Bush is planning an ad blitz against Trump.
But GOP fundraisers tell Fox Business that inside many of these campaigns, sentiment is growing to single out Trump in negative ads, and they say Trump’s record on issues such as the feasibility of his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border to stem the flow of illegal immigration, as well as his record in business provide fertile ground.
Trump himself has never declared bankruptcy, but several of his casino properties have filed for bankruptcy protection over the years. In the early 1990s, Trump was said to be insolvent as his real estate holdings began to falter.
But since then, Trump has reinvented himself as a master marketer and his Trump brand, which can be found on everything from swanky buildings to golf resorts, is widely regarded as among the best in the world. He also boasts a net worth of $10 billion, though sources such as Forbes magazine believe it is actually around $4 billion.
“If you add up all the Super PACs money, these guys have raised well over $200 million, and with Trump in the lead, some of that will be directed at him,” a GOP fundraiser said.