By Gary Reese –
GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump reportedly picked up well over $1 million in donations on Wednesday at a fundraiser at the home of Atlanta business legend Charles Loudermilk. But just as important, he picked up the endorsement of the state’s most popular football legend, former UGA coach and athletics director Vince Dooley.
The fundraiser was put together in the eleventh hour by Trump’s top Georgia volunteer, highly successful businesswoman Rayna Casey, a longtime top Newt Gingrich top confidante.
Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife Sandra were headliners at the event. While Deal and Trump had reportedly never met, insiders say that Deal liked Trump, and in his introduction the governor made it clear that he was supporting him.
“The Gingrich organization put this together for Trump and it was very apparent,” said one longtime GOP donor present at the event. “It was Newt’s people, with Rayna leading the charge.”
Trump spoke to a group of business, political and civic leaders at the breakfast fundraiser before appearing in front of thousands of supporters at a hastily arranged rally at Atlanta’s Fox Theater. It was there that UGA legend Vince Dooley, at one-time considered a “conservative Democrat,” enthusiastically endorsed Trump onstage. The Dooley endorsement made national headlines.
“Vince Dooley in Georgia is equal to Bobby Knight in Indiana,” said Phil Kent, CEO of InsiderAdvantage. “He basically is our state’s top college sports hero of all-time.”
Among those present at the morning fundraiser were prominent business leaders, as well as GOP luminaries such as Georgia’s RNC Committeeman Randy Evans.
As a side note, Matt Towery, former InsiderAdvantage CEO and current Hall, Booth, Smith attorney, was mentioned numerous times by Trump in his talk at the fundraiser. Trump noted that Towery was the first nationally syndicated columnist (in a column published in December 2014) to suggest Trump could win the GOP nomination.
The former legislator and columnist was a guest of his wife and mother, who are both Trump supporters. Mr. Towery, whose family has donated to past efforts of both President Clinton and Secretary Clinton, told IAG he was “happy to know and like” all parties in this year’s presidential contest.
Ironically Towery, Casey, and Evans are all longtime friends and associates of former speaker Newt Gingrich, as is Governor Deal.
As one observer put it, “Newt Gingrich managed to raise big bucks and help stage a huge rally for Donald Trump without even showing his hand.” That would be another boost for Gingrich, who is said to be on Trump’s shortlist as a vice presidential nominee, partly because he comes from a state that many observers consider “up for grabs” this year.