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Donald Trump is coming to Wall Street.
Trump's White House ambitions need to be fueled by about $1 billion, and investors — including a cadre of boldface names hailing from New York and Wall Street — are getting ready to bet on the presumptive GOP nominee for president.
But for the first time this election cycle, Trump lacks the advantage he had against fellow Republicans as he steamrolled his way through the party primary. It's expected former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will eventually secure the Democratic nomination, and will in turn command a sizeable war chest of more than $1 billion to fuel ads leading up to this November's election. Already, she has corralled millions in donations from the finance industry.
Trump has been campaigning and attending fundraisers on the West Coast, but he's expected to return to New York to tap donors soon. Already, he has been lining up big names from the worlds of investing and real estate; his next challenge is to turn growing support into donation checks.
Some deep pockets, like Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, threw their support behind Trump in 2015; others, like Elliott Management CEO Paul Singer have remained steadfastly opposed to his candidacy. Investor Wilbur Ross is also a Trump supporter, and is a trustee on his fundraising team.
"Trump may not even need as much because he gets so much earned media," one Wall Street backer said.
Earlier in May, T. Boone Pickens threw his weight behind Trump's candidacy. Other backers, like Steven Roth and Richard LeFrak, are expected to support his candidacy in New York, as well as key figures that supported President George W. Bush's campaigns, according to two sources. LeFrak's office declined to comment and a Roth representative did not respond to a request for comment.
California real estate magnate Donald Bren was in attendance at a fundraising event earlier this week hosted by Colony Capital CEO Thomas Barrack, according to a person who attended, as was Trump supporter and Skybridge Capital managing partner Anthony Scaramucci. Neither Bren nor Scaramucci was available for comment.
In June, the Trump campaign has a scheduled stop at top D.C. lobbyist Jack Burkman's Arlington, Virginia, home. Burkman said attendees will pay around $1,200 at the event, which is expected to draw executives from the defense industry.
But Wall Street could be a different story.
"Wall Street is pro-Clinton," Burkman said. "The Clintons mined Wall Street for decades; [Hillary] Clinton will always have more allies on Wall Street."
The Trump campaign will make announcements about East Coast fundraising stops in the coming weeks, a spokesman said.
The campaign's addition of Steven Mnuchin as finance chief may give the real estate titan a leg up in certain circles where Clinton previously dominated fundraising, Burkman said. Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs alumnus, could help Trump gain fundraising clout at the bank, he said.
More are banding together to back Trump now that he is the presumptive party nominee. This includes New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, who had once supported Jeb Bush's candidacy (he is now listed as the vice chair of the Trump Victory Committee) and Kentucky billionaire Joe Craft, who once backed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's campaign (also on the Trump Victory Committee team, as a presidential trustee).
Other potential campaign donors may include Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, who's listed on the California ballot as a Trump delegate for the state's upcoming primary in June, according to a source familiar with GOP fundraisers. A Thiel representative did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump's campaign continues to face obstacles, and not just in the amount of funds it must raise leading up to Election Day this November. House Speaker Paul Ryan has repeatedly balked at endorsing him, which could be costing him donors, another source speculated. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"Paul Ryan's endorsement is important; I think he wants to get as much as he can for his endorsement," said Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, who is also working with the Trump campaign to raise funds. "Maybe he read 'Art of the Deal.'"
Being able to unify the GOP and its presumptive nominee would be a crucial step in securing new donor cash. At the same time, party officials are left with an opportunity to make headway against Clinton, who is yet to seal the party's nomination.
One Wall Street banker, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was not initially a Trump supporter, but that he plans to back the campaign. The banker suggested there were many more like him on Wall Street who support Trump, but remain concerned with some of his views and comments.
"There are lots on the sidelines or pondering the move to Hillary," said still another Wall Street source, who spends time on Wall Street and within political circles. "[They're] very reluctant about Trump."