• Could Rand Paul’s Anti-Wall Street Rhetoric Cost Him Donors?

    Rand Paul became the second official candidate for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, but now faces an uphill battle to overcome a decided lack of corporate donations.

    “Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky will need a lot more money from mainstream corporate donors if he wants to mount a serious bid for the White House,” according to Yahoo. “But Paul has snagged little corporate money, which isn’t surprising given some of the policies he advocates.”

    The libertarian-minded Paul frequently diverges from the GOP establishment on business issues. He called for an audit of the Federal Reserve, railed against the influence of Wall Street and advocated for an end to corporate welfare. (RELATED: Rand Paul Formally Announces 2016 Run)

    According to Open Secrets, Paul has raised about $14 million since entering the Senate in 2009, of which less than $500,000 has come from his 20 largest donors, while more than $6 million has come from individual donations of $200 or less.

    In contrast, the other official Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, has raised over $18 million since 2011, including $1.5 million from his top 20 contributors, but has received less than $3 million from small individual donations.

    Paul’s reliance on small donations is reminiscent of the fundraising strategy made famous by his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, but Yahoo points out the elder Paul’s “shortage of big-money contributions” helped doom his three unsuccessful presidential campaigns, and says, “his son will likely face the same problem without a bigger spigot of cash.”

    To overcome the disparity, Politico reports, “Paul is turning to Silicon Valley and to major donors and bundlers,” hoping they will be more receptive to his policy positions than the large, established companies that have historically dominated the political fundraising game. (RELATED: Poll: Rand Paul the Conservative Pick for President in 2016)

    “Part of the message he’s sending out to the tech community [is] that, ‘I want to be close to you,’” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, told Politico. “And part of it is that he sees a naturally ally there in terms of fundraising and messaging, and I think it will be well-received.”

    One potential donor whose name has been mentioned in connection with the Paul campaign is PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Although Thiel has declined to take a position on the race so far, he did contribute $2.6 million to a pro-Ron Paul super PAC in 2012, leading some to predict he will ultimately throw his support behind Rand Paul, as well.

    On the other hand, Paul does not seem to be placing too much reliance on donations from either Silicon Valley or his army of devoted supporters. In recent months, Reuters claims, Paul “has been quietly courting Wall Street donors and raising money for fellow Republicans,” even to the point of occasionally upsetting his grassroots supporters.

    Heritage Foundation chief economist Stephen Moore, for one, does not believe money will be a major hindrance to Paul’s ambitions, with or without Wall Street support. (RELATED: Rand Paul Gets Standing Ovation at CPAC)

    “They are not going to have problems raising money,” Moore told Politico, pointing out that while “Jeb [Bush] inherits his brother’s and his father’s machine … the only person who actually has that in a smaller and important way is Rand Paul,” whose ability to use his father’s fundraising network could help to offset a lack of large-scale corporate donors.

    Follow Peter Fricke on Twitter

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