Fundraising in high gear for Democratic, GOP conventions

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — With just weeks to go before Republicans and Democrats gather to nominate a presidential candidate, organizers in Philadelphia and Cleveland are hustling to hit fundraising targets that top $60 million apiece.

Organizers in Cleveland, which hosts the Republican National Convention from July 18 to 21, said this week they have raised $56 million of their $64 million goal.

In Philadelphia, where Democrats will gather July 25 to 28, former Gov. Ed Rendell said the host committee is about $9 million short of topping $60 million. Rendell, the lead pitchman for the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee, said he’s used to the eleventh-hour challenge.

“We’ll get there. I can’t remember any campaign where I didn’t raise $9 million in the last month,” said Rendell, who won two terms as governor and two as mayor of Philadelphia.

Rendell points to several challenges facing both cities this year. For starters, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has pushed some corporate donors to sit out the election.

That’s in part because of a campaign by a coalition led by the liberal coalition Color Of Change seeking some major corporate sponsors — including Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Google and AT&T — to steer clear of the GOP event, citing Trump’s divisive rhetoric.

Coke ultimately donated $75,000 each to both parties’ conventions, a marked reduction from the $660,000 it gave to the Republican convention in 2012. Tech giant Microsoft opted to give equipment rather than money, though the company called the decision unrelated to any pressure they may have received over Trump.

Separately, budget cuts have eliminated the $18 million in federal funds that the parties used to receive for their conventions.

In Philadelphia, Rendell is also finding that some civic and corporate leaders “are tapped out” after rallying support for the pope’s visit last year. Still, he said, nearly every large corporation and law firm has contributed to the bipartisan effort of hosting the convention, he said.

Emily Lauer, a spokeswoman for Cleveland 2016 Host Committee, said fundraising for the Republican National Convention is further along than it was in prior years. The host committees in Tampa in 2012 and Minneapolis-St. Paul in 2008 had raised only about half of their budgets by this point, she said.

“There is a ton of pride in northeast Ohio and in Cleveland overall in hosting a political convention,” Lauer said. “This is the first time in 80 years that this has happened and that’s definitely having an impact on the support we’re seeing.”


Carr Smyth reported from Columbus, Ohio.

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