Why Trump Can’t Quit Steve Wynn

Wynn expressed optimism about Cruz’s chances within the crowded GOP field. Wynn then lambasted Trump, the frontrunner at the time, castigating the real-estate mogul’s record as a “businessman” and “casino owner.” Wynn snickered about how Trump’s Vegas property stood pitifully far from the Strip, the stretch of land coveted by any hopeful casino or hotel owner in the city. “He was just clowning on him,”

.. So when, on the eve of Trump’s decisive victory in the Nevada caucus two months later, the candidate touted his support from none other than Steve Wynn, Cruz’s camp was stunned. Wynn, standing alongside fellow casino mogul Phil Ruffin, beamed from the crowd.

..  In the space of a year, Wynn would become a member of the president’s cadre of informal advisers, his hand-selected finance chair of the RNC, and as such, an indispensable fundraiser for the party.

.. Multiple Republican sources say Wynn’s retreat from the political scene will have a lasting and negative impact on the GOP’s fundraising prowess. “No small number of GOP lawmakers have stayed at Wynn Resorts in the last two years and relied on him for donations,” the Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said. “This could be devastating.”

.. not one seemed to think that the president would simply sever ties with Wynn.

.. The initial bout of friction between Trump and Wynn dates back to the 1990s, when the two engaged in a vicious legal battle over Wynn’s efforts to expand to Atlantic City that included allegations of fraud, money laundering, perjury, and even claims that an investigator working on behalf of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. had become a mole for Wynn’s Mirage Resorts,

.. “They hate each other’s guts. It’s like poison,”

.. The president still nurses the wound of those years and the insults Wynn lobbed at him

.. “It was always just billionaire ego bullshit,” said one Trump campaign official who witnessed their exchanges. “Like, ‘Haha, my building is a couple feet taller than your building.’ That kind of thing.”

.. Yet far from keeping Wynn at a distance, Trump seemed insistent on tightening their relationship. “They became pretty close,”

.. the president took great pleasure in how their roles had reversed.

.. During the transition, Wynn bordered on “sycophantic” in his outreach ..  particularly on the topic of China.

.. Wynn, who runs a massive casino operation in Macau, often urged Trump to reconsider his pledge to be “tough on China.”

.. Wynn then volunteered to arrange entertainment for Trump’s inauguration

.. Not even Wynn’s extensive rolodex of celebrities could help him nab the artists he wanted most, including Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Elton John. “As soon as he’d get close to bringing one on, word would leak out, and they’d immediately deny,” the source said. “Steve got very frustrated. He was clearly upset.”

.. it raised a record-breaking $107 million in the first three quarters of 2017

.. “He’s been a bigger success as a fundraiser than people thought he would be,

.. Wynn spoke with no notes, “as he’s mostly blind.” (Wynn suffers from a degenerative eye disease.)

.. The Wall Street Journal reported that Wynn hand-delivered a letter from the Chinese government urging the return of Miles Kwok, the Chinese businessman who fled the country, seeking asylum in the U.S.

.. But one source directly familiar with the matter remembered notably how Wynn was able “to work Trump up into a tizzy” over the situation, playing into the president’s well-known desire “to get the bad guys out” of the country.

.. “The president will want to keep Steve around him. He likes him—he’s gonna be last to throw a rock at a buddy of his.” Which means that Wynn’s access to Trump could very well continue unfettered—in the shadows, off the schedule, as it largely has been until now.

Jeb and Hillary: A Tale of Two Establishment Favorites

On Friday, as Hillary Clinton was basking in the reaction to her marathon appearance before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, her communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, told reporters that the hour between nine and ten o’clock on Thursday night, after the hearing finally finished, was the campaign’s best fund-raising hour yet.

.. Meanwhile, the campaign of the supposed Republican front-runner, Jeb Bush, was letting it be known that it was laying off people and slashing its payroll by forty per cent.

.. In virtually monopolizing media coverage and subjecting Bush to months of public criticism, the New York billionaire has transformed the dynamics of the G.O.P. race in a way that almost nobody anticipated—a point the managers of the Bush campaign acknowledged in an internal memo announcing the cost cuts. “We would be less than forthcoming if we said we predicted in June that a reality television star supporting Canadian-style single-payer health care and partial-birth abortion would be leading the G.O.P. primary,” the memo said.

.. If Bush were wowing the world with innovative and substantive policy proposals, his verbal shortcomings could perhaps be overlooked. But he isn’t. His tax-cutting economic plan, which he claims will increase G.D.P. growth to four per cent a year, is largely based on wishful thinking. His foreign-policy speeches are so vague that they’re hard to evaluate. On social issues, such as guns and abortion, he has said little to distinguish himself from the G.O.P. pack. In 2000, his brother George ran on the platform of “compassionate Conservatism,” which was his way of distinguishing himself from Newt Gingrich and other Republican bomb throwers. Jeb’s only memorable slogan is “Jeb!”

.. Indeed, it now appears possible that his entire campaign is based on two false premises.

The first is that Republican voters want a shift to the center.

.. The second shaky premise is the notion that Republicans are keen on restoring the Bush dynasty.

Don’t Talk About Those Unpaid Bills

It was not that these people were unwilling to donate money to political activity in general. Many of those facing economic insecurity are far from poor, and have at least some discretionary income. But the appeals that specifically reminded them of their own financial constraints reduced their willingness to donate.

.. People who were personally affected but not working, like retirees, however, were up to 500 percent more likely to donate their time in response to the same insecurity-related message.

.. In short, political messages based on insecurity can backfire precisely because they remind people of their difficult circumstances. I call this self-undermining rhetoric — rhetoric that brings to mind considerations that undermine the very goals the rhetoric aims to achieve.


Fund-raising for Bard College

Bard has always educated the kind of student that tends not to go to Wall Street. They haven’t made buckets of money.” Unlike the best-endowed liberal-arts colleges, such as Amherst, Williams, and Swarthmore, Bard has done little to foster links to the business community. On campus, this has its positive side: the atmosphere is intellectually idealistic and anything but pre-professional. But, unsurprisingly, an excess of critical-theory-reading photography majors doesn’t make for a promising donor pool.

.. Botstein has written that “it is an embarrassment that so much time, effort, emotion, and money are expended on gladiatorial exhibitions.” But, for better or worse, such activities are at the heart of fund-raising. Noah Drezner, an associate professor of higher education at Teachers College, Columbia University, told me, “Studies have shown that former student athletes, even just those who participated in organized college sports, are more likely to give, and give at higher rates.”

.. Instead of appealing to alumni, Botstein’s chief tactic has been to court a few exceptionally wealthy donors. “We’re in the business of looking for large investors,” he told me. “Basically, the people who created the college are Leon Levy, Dick Fisher, and George Soros.”

.. The proliferation of ancillary programs at Bard reflects a fundamental dynamic in today’s nonprofit world. It’s far easier to interest big donors in funding eye-catching initiatives than in funding unglamorous core activities. (At colleges, the latter usually end up being supported by incremental gifts from alumni, parents, and friends.) Many people I spoke to said that Botstein’s great strength as a fund-raiser is that he thinks like a donor.