By Paul Steinhauser
Published June 18, 2019
“We’ve raised a great deal of money,” Biden said Monday night at a top-dollar fundraiser in New York City.
Biden then teased that his campaign’s received contributions from 360,000 people, with an average donation of $55. Do the math, and that works out to $19.8 million.
This comes two weeks after Biden appeared to reveal for the first time the number of individual donors to his campaign, telling Fox News, “we’ve had over 300,000 individual contributors. Average contribution of these is under $200.”
The Biden campaign didn’t elaborate further on the former vice president’s latest fundraising comments. The campaign announced soon after Biden jumped into the race that they hauled in a record $6.3 million in his first 24 hours as a presidential candidate.
A nearly $20 million haul would beat the first-quarter fundraising figures of any of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. Biden declared his candidacy at the end of April, much later than many of the other leading Democratic White House hopefuls, and after the conclusion of the first quarter of fundraising.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont topped those first-quarter figures, hauling in $18.2 million in the first 41 days of his campaign. Sen. Kamala Harris of California brought in $12 million during the first three months of the year, followed by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas at $9.4 million and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at $7.1 million.
Fundraising was far from then-Sen. Biden’s wheelhouse in his unsuccessful White House runs in the 1988 and 2008 presidential cycles. But so far, the third time appears to be the charm, as Biden’s raking in big bucks both at traditional fundraisers with deep-pocketed donors -- which he's opened up to media coverage in a move for transparency -- as well as through online contributions.
Biden said Monday night that the fundraising this time around has “allowed me to be able to compete in a way that I’ve never been able to before.”
Biden’s new comments come with less than two weeks to go until the end of the second quarter of fundraising. Like some of his rivals, Biden’s picked up the fundraising pace as that deadline nears.
On Monday night, he attended a finance event in Manhattan at the Upper East Side home of Jim Chanos, the president and founder of a prominent short-selling investment firm named Kynikos Associates.
With nearly 180 guests contributing $2,800 per person, Biden raised around $500,000. The candidate headlined two more fundraisers in Manhattan on Tuesday, with the first event bringing in an estimated $280,000. There was no immediate head count of attendees at the second fundraiser.
But Biden’s also taken incoming fire from rivals over his top-dollar fundraisers.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who’s criticized Biden in the past for meeting with big donors, zinged him again Monday night on Twitter as she touted her grassroots fundraising. “I don’t spend time at fancy fundraisers. Instead, I spend my time meeting voters and thanking grassroots donors who chip in what they can. Donate $3 to my campaign, and you might just get a call from me to thank you!” the populist senator from Massachusetts wrote.
In an email to supporters last month, Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir wrote that Biden’s “raising huge sums of money at large fundraising events all across the country. And these are not grassroots fundraising events.”
Such attacks could be delivered in person next week, as both Biden and Sanders share the same stage during the first round of Democratic primary debates.
Buttigieg, meanwhile, is also stepping up his fundraising efforts, though canceled this week’s scheduled fundraisers in New York City and California after he rushed back to South Bend after a fatal police shooting of a black man by police.
The one-time long-shot for the nomination who’s surged in recent months raised as much money in April -- $7 million -- as he had the first three months of his campaign.
While holding top-dollar events, Biden’s campaign has highlighted its small-dollar online donations. They recently touted their online contributions and said those kinds of contributions made up the lion’s share of the whopping $6.3 million raised in the 24 hours after the former vice president announced his candidacy.
Campaign cash, along with polling, is an important metric to measure a candidate's popularity and his or her campaign's strength. Fundraising dollars can be used by campaigns to hire staff, build grassroots outreach efforts, travel and pay for ads.