Trump hits rivals over super PACs days after group backing him disbands

Story highlights

  • "A lot of PACs are crooked business," Trump said
  • Trump has repeatedly slammed the influence big-moneyed interests hold over politicians
Jake Tapper's full interview with Donald Trump will air Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on CNN's "State of the Union."

Jacksonville, Florida (CNN)Donald Trump on Saturday knocked his fellow presidential candidates for having super PACs backing their presidential bids, just two days after a super PAC backing him announced it was disbanding.

"A lot of PACs are crooked business," Trump said Saturday at a rally here in Jacksonville. "Those PACs control the candidates. They totally control. (Ben) Carson is controlled by his PAC. (Jeb) Bush is controlled by his PAC. (Marco) Rubio is controlled by his PAC -- and he needs a lot of water."
Most notably, Trump knocked Carson -- who overtook Trump as the front-runner in Iowa in two recent polls -- for his campaign "in Iowa being run by a super PAC."
    Since launching his campaign, Trump has repeatedly slammed the influence big-moneyed interests hold over politicians, but a super PAC set up to bolster his candidacy drew scrutiny in recent weeks for its ties to the campaign. The group announced Thursday it would shut down after the Trump campaign denied it ever gave the PAC its blessing.
    And on Friday, the Trump campaign in a press release disavowed the "nine unauthorized super PACs claiming to support him" and called on other presidential campaigns to do the same.
    Trump again on Saturday said he didn't know anything about the PACs that have been set up to boost his chances at winning the White House, and highlighted his independent status, once again claiming to be "self-funding" his campaign.
    "So when they come to me and they say, 'Donald what are you doing?' I say, 'I don't care I got to do the right thing.' The only people I'm going to be working for is right out here," Trump said. "I don't want anybody from PACs. I don't want any money."
    But while Trump continues to claim that he is self-funding his campaign, he has spent more of other people's money than his own since launching his campaign in June.
    Trump spent $3.6 million from campaign contributions that supporters have sent in, while spending $1.9 million from his own pockets.
    While Trump's website has a visible "DONATE" tab at the top of his webpage, Trump says that he does not solicit campaign contributions and has attributed the donations, which averaged in at $50, to a groundswell of grassroots support.

    Local millionaire pitches in

    But even as he has disavowed outside efforts to boost his candidacy, an outside effort looking to help Trump capture the nomination showed its face on Saturday in Jacksonville -- not in the form of a shadowy organization, but in that of local millionaire Jimmy Indianos, who is self-funding a pro-Trump effort in Florida.
    Indianos has not set up a formal organization, but pays 15 staffers out of his own pocket -- more staffers than the Trump campaign has in Iowa -- and at the Saturday rally, Indianos and his staff were out in full force, asking supporters to give their names and personal information and distributing free T-shirts as they push to register new voters who will support Trump in the Florida primary.
    He set up his operation in May, before Trump even officially announced his candidacy and long before Trump put staff in Florida. The Trump campaign announced the hire of a Florida state director earlier this month.
    "We got the mojo rolling right now. We got some momentum and it's working," Indianos told CNN.
    He said he's been in touch with the campaign's new Florida state director Karen Giorno, who he said was "pretty excited" about his work, but wanted to make sure he was not collecting any money, which he is not.
    "I'm a private citizen -- I think we still got that right ... We'll do anything to help 'em," Indianos said, but added that he would stop his operation if the campaign asked him. "Hey, they tell me to stop, I'll save me a bunch of money and I'll just go back to making money."
    Giorno and the Trump campaign did not return a request for comment. And Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said he did not know anything about Indianos and his operation.
    At the rally on Saturday, Trump repeatedly ignored questions about super PACs or his campaign finance reform plans.
    Trump fired off several tweets Saturday attacking Bush's campaign challenges and popularity.
    ".@JebBush is totally lost -- he spends too much time managing the bloated staff of his campaign & not enough talking about America's future," he tweeted.
    Stumping here in Florida, Trump also knocked Bush and Rubio, the top two establishment candidates jostling with Trump for the nomination.
    He knocked Bush for deciding Friday to downsize his campaign and slash salaries as he has struggled to remain in the top-tier of Republican candidates in national polls.
    "Here is a guy who wants to run our country and he can't even run his own campaign," Trump said of Bush, the former Florida governor.
    And as Trump has topped both Bush and Rubio in polls of Florida's GOP voters, Trump again used a common attack against the Florida senator.
    "Talk about a guy who's sweating," Trump said. "Now he's really sweating!"