Donald Trump may occasionally forget Rep. Rod Blum’s name, but the president’s reelection campaign committee definitely knows it. Blum, who represents Iowa’s 1st Congressional District which includes Cedar Rapids, is one of 100 Republican candidates who has received a $2,000 donation from Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. That is the maximum amount one campaign committee can donate to another.
Trump filed the papers creating his reelection committee with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Jan. 20, 2017, the day he was sworn-in as president. The committee started accepting donations that same day. “No other U.S. president has ever launched a re-election campaign, technically or ceremonially, so early,” according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity (CPI).
CPI also noted, “Prior to Trump, sitting presidents have engaged in little or no fundraising for their own re-election campaigns during the first two years of their terms.” Trump’s reelection campaign has raised more than $88 million since it was launched.
Trump has used those campaign funds to pay for several of the rally’s he has held since becoming president, and approximately 25 percent of the money has gone to cover legal bills resulting from investigation of possible crimes committed by the 2016 Trump campaign and agents of Russia.
The donations to the 100 Republican congressional candidates were disclosed in most recent campaign finance filings, which cover the second quarter of this year. McClatchy DC Bureau’s Anita Kumar examined the Trump reelection campaign filing and found, the candidates include those who have “openly defied him on key issues of immigration and trade.” Blum is not one of those candidates.
While many Midwestern Republicans have pushed back against Trump’s trade policies, especially his imposition of tariffs, Blum has praised Trump for them. During an appearance with Trump at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa last week, Blum said to Trump,
Thank you for having political courage to renegotiate these trade deals, which quite frankly are not good to the United States and you’ve taken some heat for it in the short term. For the long run, the farmers, the manufacturers, the employers are all going to be better off. Thank you for having political courage.
Blum’s flattering rhetoric is in keeping with his voting record in Congress. The data journalism site FiveThirtyEight maintains an index of how often members of Congress vote with or against Trump’s stated preferences. Blum votes with Trump 92 percent of the time, the exact same percentage of pro-Trump votes cast by Iowa’s most outspoken Trump supporter, Rep. Steve King. Iowa’s other Republican congressman, David Young, outdid both Blum and King, voting with Trump 98.9 percent of the time. The Trump reelection campaign also donated $2,000 to Young.
In addition to openly defying Trump, Kumar also found, “Some [of the candidates] didn’t even vote for him.” Again, this does not apply to Blum. In August 2016, Blum criticized Republicans who weren’t supporting Trump, and called on the party “to unite behind our nominee.”
During the press event at the Peosta, Trump praised Blum while simultaneously forgetting his name, “I’d like to maybe have Matt Blum speak next, because he’s been so incredible in so many ways,” Trump said. “He fights so hard, he loves his state, he loves his people.”