Donald Trump turned down a speaking role at the Republican National Convention that begins Aug. 27, in Tampa.
However, he accepted a request to talk about the upcoming election from the Sarasota Republican Club, which named the billionaire developer and reality television star Statesman of the Year.
Joe Gruters, chairman of the Sarasota Republican Party, said the Aug. 26 dinner event at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota is set to accommodate 900 people, and 815 tickets have already been purchased. The party attracted 15 sponsors that committed at least $15,000, to reserve seats or tables.
Trump was an easy choice, Gruters said. “He’s lived the American dream,” he explained. The sluggish economic recovery will be a major talking point in the presidential election, and Trump’s business acumen gives him a unique perspective on job creation.
“The great thing about Donald, and how he’s able to attract even Democrats and independents, is that he’s a celebrity,” Gruters said. “Celebrity goes a long way.”
Trump will also make the perfect surrogate for Gov. Mitt Romney, Gruters said. “He’s obviously not afraid to take difficult positions on some of these issues and communicate them to average Americans,” he said. “It’s not just about political rhetoric — he tells it how it is.”
Although Trump doesn’t have experience as an elected public official, when he announced plans to run for president in 2010, he jumped to the top of at least three primary election polls at the start of the following year. Romney’s campaign was energized when he selected Paul Ryan as his running mate, and Trump’s campaigning is key in keeping the GOP candidates’s momentum, Gruters said.
Tickets range from $150 and $1,000, based on the amount of Trump-time attendees will get — from a handshake and a picture, to a one-on-one chat. The event, which will begin with a VIP reception at 5:30 p.m., cost roughly $100,000 to arrange, Gruters said.
Gruters said attendees could expect to see major political players at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, including Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Florida Rep. Chris Dorworth.
“This will be the most successful fundraiser in the history of the party in Sarasota,” Gruters said.
IF YOU GO
Sarasota Republican Club hosts Donald Trump
When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26
Where: Ritz-Carlton, 1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, Sarasota
Cost: Tickets range from $150 to $1,000
Contact: Go to SarasotaRepublicanClub.com for more information