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Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers on Tuesday pushed wealthy donors to unite against Republicans in Congress who oppose Donald Trump’s agenda, advising them to “purge” the small contingent of GOP leaders impeding the implementation of the president’s campaign promises.
According to an audio recording of the event obtained by Politico, Ayers departed from Mike Pence’s generally conciliatory public tone at a closed-door Republican National Committee event at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, and urged a more aggressive funding strategy.
“Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him?” Ayers told donors. “If – and this sounds crass – we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him.”
Ayers warned donors that unless they pull funding from anti-Trump Republican leaders and threaten to recruit primary candidates to challenge them, the Republican party will be “on track to get shellacked” in the 2018 midterm elections. While Ayers was pessimistic about the GOP’s ability to pass comprehensive tax reform, he maintained that going into the elections without having passed at least one major legislative goal would be a “suicide mission.”
Wealthy donors provide a huge chunk of the funding for campaigns. Though the 2016 election saw a rise in the number of small donations to candidates, these contributions remain tiny in comparison to a number of money donors like those at the St. Regis event give.