COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The first Republican presidential debate provided an opportunity for candidates to make their cases directly to a national audience, and some of that attention is translating into fundraising boosts.
Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has taken in $450,000 since Wednesday night's debate, with an average donation of $38, campaign spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Ramaswamy, a political newcomer who occupied center stage in the absence of current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, scored several memorable moments during the debate, criticizing some rivals as “super PAC puppets” who were using “ready-made, preprepared slogans” to attack him.
Ramaswamy, has largely been self-funding his campaign and raised more than $7.7 million in the second quarter, finishing with more than $9 million on hand.
At least one candidate, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, made a direct fundraising appeal onstage Milwaukee, asking viewers in his closing remarks to go to his campaign website “for more information or to make a contribution.”
Former President Donald Trump, who is the early front-runner for the nomination, skipped the debate.
Other campaigns didn't immediately respond to messages Thursday about their post-debate fundraising, but some donors are talking.
After being briefed in Milwaukee by top campaign staffers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, donor Hal Lambert said he was pleased with his chosen candidate's performance.
“Everyone’s extremely happy,” Lambert said in an interview. “I think he did extremely well. I think he stayed out of the bickering on stage."
Jay Zeidman, a Houston-based venture capital executive and DeSantis fundraiser, said he was “excited” and “motivated” after the debate as he made fundraising calls Thursday.
“Last night helps reiterate the point that this governor is building a campaign to last and that despite the headline of the day or the poll of the day, that we know we’re in a really good spot and have nowhere to go but up and believe that the former president has nowhere to go but down,” Zeidman said.
A handful of candidates had gotten creative in their fundraising appeals in order to meet the Republican National Committee's 40,000 minimum unique donor requirement for debate participants. Some of the ploys worked, such as North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's giveaway of $20 “Biden Relief Cards" in exchange for donations as low as $1.
Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP
Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press