Contests, Don Draper, and 'The Enforcer': Presidential Campaigns Get Creative Ahead of Fundraising Deadline

From dinner invitations to shooting ranges to cartoon videos, campaigns are doing whatever they can to get the attention—and cash—of their supporters.

Your inbox may be overflowing with unsolicited invitations to attend fancy dinners, messages from reality TV stars, and "personal" requests from former presidents—but that doesn't mean you've become incredibly popular overnight.

Rather, it's the end of yet another campaign-fundraising period, and presidential campaigns aiming to bolster their bank accounts are trying all sorts of gimmicks, both old and new, to convince their supporters to fork over a few extra bucks before deadlines hit and they have to publicize their fundraising totals. It's one of the few concrete measures of campaign performance so far, and the large field of Republican hopefuls (not to mention the handful of Democrats running) are doing everything to lure more donors into the fold.

To encourage last-minute donations, Hillary Clinton's campaign emailed supporters last week asking them to enter a contest for the chance to have dinner with the former secretary of State and a friend. Technically, a contribution was not required to sign up, but one email noted that "when you chip in to help build this campaign, you'll also be automatically entered for the chance to join Hillary for dinner."

Ted Cruz's campaign organized a less traditional sweepstakes earlier this month: the chance to spend an afternoon at a shooting range with the senator himself. Again, no contribution was necessary to enter the contest. Still, Cruz couldn't pass up the opportunity to raise some cash. "After you've entered, make a generous Shoot With Ted contribution of $35, $50, $100 or more to my campaign," he wrote in the email.

Marco Rubio's campaign recently turned to a reality TV star to boost its fundraising figures. Rick Harrison, the host of Pawn Stars, urged prospective donors to contribute to Rubio's campaign in a video that was emailed out this week. "Trust me, I know a good investment when I see one," Harrison said in the video, which highlighted Rubio's visit to Harrison's Las Vegas shop in May.

Jeb Bush, meanwhile, has relied heavily on his family (aside, notably, from George W. Bush) to make the case for him in his campaign's fundraising emails. George H.W. Bush "personally" asked supporters "to make a gift of $15" in an email featuring the subject line "Proud father" on Monday. For those who didn't donate? They might be hearing from Barbara Bush soon. The former president ended his message with a friendly warning: "And remember, I'm asking, so my wife, 'The Enforcer,' doesn't have to. Trust me, you don't want her following up!"

For his part, Rick Santorum wanted to hear from his donors in person before the second quarter came to a close. The former senator invited supporters to join him and his staff on an "important conference call" Monday night, writing in an email that "it's vitally important that we coordinate our efforts and make a concerted final push" ahead of the reporting deadline. Those that couldn't call in could still do their part. "I hope you'll make a special donation of $25, $50, $100, or whatever you can possibly afford right now to help us continue the work," Santorum wrote.

Having written eight books, Ben Carson may still have some diehard supporters who have not had the chance to read all of the retired neurosurgeon's published works. So Carson is offering My Life, a shorter version of his autobiography Gifted Hands, to donors who chip in $25 or more to his campaign, according to an email his campaign sent out Tuesday that includes a countdown to the end of the quarter.

Rick Perry's team tried to inject a little pop culture into its latest online fundraising push. This week, the campaign released a three-minute animated video, complete with references to The Wizard of Oz, Jeopardy!, I Love Lucy, Cheers, and Wheel of Fortune, highlighting his economic record as Texas governor, and ending with a plea for cash. Perry's staff also tried to win over some Mad Men fans on Twitter, posting the video alongside an animation of Don Draper giving a thumbs up.

Even the man these candidates are vying to replace is getting in on the end-of-the-quarter action. President Obama's advocacy group, Organizing for Action, is dangling a free trip to Hawaii to supporters who sign up before midnight Tuesday. "I'm a real person giving away a real trip to Hawaii," OFA staffer Ryanne Brown emailed Tuesday morning.