President Trump and RNC set fundraising record

President Donald Trump - AP image

'President Trump has built a juggernaut of a campaign...'

Posted: Oct 1, 2019 3:59 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2019 4:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee will report raising $125 million in the third quarter of the year, a presidential fundraising record.

The pair told The Associated Press that it has raised more than $308 million in 2019 and has more than $156 million in the bank. Republicans aim to use the fundraising haul to fight off Democrats' impeachment effort.

Former President Barack Obama and the DNC raised just over $70 million in the third quarter of 2011 and had $100 million less in the bank at the equivalent point in the race.

"President Trump has built a juggernaut of a campaign, raising record amounts of money at a record pace," said Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel credited Democratic attacks on Trump for motivating supporters to donate in record numbers.

"We are investing millions on the airwaves and on the ground to hold House Democrats accountable, highlight their obstruction, and take back the House and reelect President Trump in 2020," she said.

The fundraising announcement comes as the pro-Trump efforts launched their first major advertising campaign of the cycle. Trump's team aims to devote $1 billion to his reelection.

Last week, as House Democrats launched their impeachment effort, the Trump campaign announced it would spend $8 million to air an ad attacking Democrats for trying to "steal" the 2020 campaign. The RNC said it would spend $2 million attacking Democrats for their support of impeachment.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders reported Tuesday that he raised $25.3 million over the last three months, the largest quarterly sum a Democratic White House hopeful has posted this year and an amount that ensures he will be an enduring presence in the primary.

Pete Buttigieg, who entered the race as the little-known mayor of South Bend, Indiana, also released his numbers, pulling in $19.1 million for the quarter, an almost $6 million dip from his field-leading sum last quarter but a figure that's all but certain to place him in the top tier.

The large sums, which were posted after the notoriously dry summer fundraising months, come as both candidates have faced skepticism about their prospects. Buttigieg has struggled to break out of single-digit polling, while Sanders has faced a drumbeat of speculation that progressive rival Elizabeth Warren is eating into his support.

Taken together, they offer a clear sign that both candidates will have ample resources to compete well into the primary, with Sanders announcing his first TV ad buy of the campaign on Tuesday.

"Media elites and professional pundits have tried repeatedly to dismiss this campaign, and yet working-class Americans keep saying loudly and clearly that they want a political revolution," Sanders' campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said in a statement.

Sanders has repeatedly condemned rivals who rely on big-dollar fundraisers, instead championing his army of online donors who give small amounts. Yet the Vermont senator is holding similar events and earlier transferred $10 million from his other campaign accounts, a portion of which was raised in the kind of ritzy environments he's blasted.

He now bills these as "grassroots" fundraisers and was set to hold one such event in Las Vegas on Tuesday. In June, $2,000 tickets for a San Francisco fundraiser sold out. A Los Angeles event in July that charged as much as $2,800 featured rapper Vic Mensa.
A Sanders spokeswoman, Sarah Ford, said in an email that the basic cost of entry is $27 and "no one is required to donate any amount above that to attend."

For candidates, there's a growing sense of urgency as the primary becomes a fierce battle for a limited pool of cash. In the days and hours before Monday's deadline, they pleaded for money, making appeals on social media and collectively blasting out more than 80 emails asking supporters to "chip in" $5, $10 or $50. The third-quarter figures have to be reported to the Federal Election Commission by Oct. 15.

Those outside the top tier are facing pressure to post competitive numbers or get out, though their exits couldn't come soon enough for some angsty Democrats. They will not only face challenges paying for advertising to amplify their message, but are also likely to struggle reaching fundraising thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee to qualify for future debates.

"If you are being outraised 3-to-1 by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, you have no viable path to victory," said Rufus Gifford, Barack Obama's former finance director. "Even if you can compete in the early states ... shortly thereafter you will run out of money."

Over the summer, California Sen. Kamala Harris kept up an aggressive fundraising schedule to stockpile the cash needed to build up her operation in early states. Yet she did not improve on her past performance amid a series of stumbles and restarts. The $11.6 million she reported raising keeps virtually even with her totals from each of the past two quarters, suggesting she hasn't caught on with much of the party's activist donor base.

Still, it's enough to keep her in contention in the months to come, and Harris' campaign manager, Juan Rodriguez, said they were "built to win this primary."

Others face dimmer odds.

Cory Booker recently warned that unless he juiced his fundraising numbers by an additional $1.7 million he'd likely have to drop out. The New Jersey senator announced Tuesday he was "proud" of his team for surpassing the goal while pulling in a total of $6 million for the quarter.

But campaign manager Addisu Demissie then issued a memo stating they'd have to do even better and raise $3 million by the end of October.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who has also struggled to raise money, is applying for public financing, turning to a fund that is replenished by those who volunteer to chip in $3 from their taxes. He hopes it will supplement his campaign with a $2 million boost, though the FEC board does not currently have enough commissioners to sign off on the request.

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