Pence campaign predicts he’ll qualify for the debate stage next week

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign predicted he will hit the donor threshold next week to punch his ticket for the first Republican presidential debate.

The prediction came Wednesday from Pence’s campaign manager, Steve DeMaura, on a Zoom call with donors, which the campaign invited media to attend. In it, DeMaura said the campaign has “well over” 30,000 unique donors and is averaging “more than” 1,000 new, unique donors per day over about the last 10 days. Candidates have to get at least 40,000 unique donors, along with meeting a polling threshold, to make the Aug. 23 Republican National Committee-sponsored debate.

“The tactics we are using online are working,” DeMaura said, adding that “we’re confident by the end of next week, we will be qualified for this debate.

But DeMaura said he expects online efforts to be a smaller portion of the vice president’s fundraising program: “Direct mail is our strongest source of grassroots donor support,” he said. DeMaura added the campaign has sent more than one million pieces of direct mail in the last few weeks.

Pence has easily cleared the RNC’s polling threshold that makes up part of the qualifying criteria for this month’s debate. But he remains short of the donor threshold, a mark seven candidates say they’ve already hit.

An NBC News analysis of the latest fundraising disclosures, which only include Pence’s first three weeks as a presidential candidate, found that he ended June with fewer than 3,000 unique donors itemized in federal filings for Pence’s campaign and WinRed, the Republican online donor platform. But the news from DeMaura means Pence has picked up steam since then.

The former vice president echoed the message to donors, telling them that within “maybe the next 7-to-10 days, we’ll lock it down.”

“But we’re not there yet, though,” Pence said, before asking donors to “send a note around” to their friends to ask them to donate, noting that “for the high-end contributors on this call” that the maximum donation under federal law is $6,600 per person ($3,300 for the primary and $3,300 if a candidate makes the general election).

The call came the day after former President Donald Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., which accused him of trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Pence testified in the investigation under subpoena and the indictment cited Pence’s “contemporaneous notes” about meetings and conversations he had with Trump leading up to January 6th.

DeMaura referenced the news when he told donors “the last 24 hours, we believe, have clarified what’s at stake in this race.”

“I can’t assess whether or not the government has the evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what they assert in the indictment, and the president is entitled to a presumption of innocence,” Pence said earlier to reporters at the Indiana state fair. “But for my part, I want people to know that I had no right to overturn the election.”

Although Pence says he hoped “it wouldn’t come to” an indictment, he told donors, “Anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president.” Trump is currently leading in every national poll for the Republican presidential primary.

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