After bemoaning the wealthy GOP donors who he says "actively despise" the party's conservative base, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has turned his campaign fundraising efforts toward luring in small-dollar bundlers.
In what his camp is calling "the world's first presidential social crowd-funding platform," the Texas senator's campaign on Thursday announced CruzCrowd, a website that hopes to draw in donors who can raise multiple small donations.
"Traditionally, wealthy bundlers have been the financiers and driving force behind presidential politics. Ted Cruz has proven his appeal to wealthy donors and they are a vital part of his campaign," Chris Wilson, director of research and analytics and head of digital strategy for the Cruz campaign, said in a press release.
Wilson said that Cruz is banking on grass-roots support – not special interest groups – to raise cash.
“Capitalizing on this fun and competitive environment not only raises money, but helps build the grassroots infrastructure that is critical to Sen. Cruz's success," he said.
Much like with high-dollar bundlers, donors on CruzCrowd can reach different tiers depending on their fundraising totals – although Cruz's site is doing something new by treating the fundraising as a competition based around the American Revolution. Users will earn badges and credits for rewards at Cruz's campaign store.
Users can also track their fundraising progress against others and your rank is dependent on how much you raise: a person who just joined is a Colonist, then one becomes a Delegate after raising $1,000 and Signer after raising $5,000. The top tier, Federalist, requires collecting $10,000.
"Users are rewarded when they accomplish the primary function - raising money - but are also rewarded when they accomplish the more important function: recruiting more users for the Cruz Campaign's grassroots army," Cruz's press release stated. "This structure is key to the platform's potential for organic, viral growth and success."
While Cruz may already have the backing of a number of wealthy donors – he is suspected to have lapped Jeb Bush in third quarter fundraising – but CruzCrowd seems to play off the firebrand lawmakers push to appeal to the deeply conservative base of the Republican Party.
"Republican donors actively despise our base, actively despise the men and women who showed up and voted you and me into office," Cruz said during a speech late Monday night on the Senate floor, adding that the donors consider Republican majorities in Congress "as a bunch of ignorant hicks and rubes."
"I can tell you when you sit down and talk with a New York billionaire Republican donor — and I have talked with quite a few New York billionaire Republican donors, California Republican donors, their questions start out as follows," Cruz said, according to Politico. "First of all, you've got to come out for gay marriage, you need to be pro-choice, and you need to support amnesty. That's where the Republican donors are. You wonder why Republicans won't fight on any of these issues? Because the people writing the checks agree with the Democrats."
While Cruz has not yet released his fundraising numbers for the third quarter, he did raise $10 million in the second quarter, with the super PACs that supports him hauling in another $37.8 million – a large chunk of it from Long Island hedge-fund magnate Robert Mercer.