- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The latest numbers from the Democratic presidential money race reveal a weakness for Joseph R. Biden, who ended the quarter with less than $9 million on hand as he and other candidates burned through cash over the last three months.

The amount of money that Mr. Biden has on hand was good for fifth among the 2020 Democratic candidates, according to the latest fundraising reports filed this week, and analysts said it’s not a great sign for a candidate who has spent much of the race as the front-runner for the party’s nomination.

Mr. Biden was well back of Sen. Bernard Sanders, who had the most cash on hand with close to $34 million in the bank, as the candidates muster resources for advertising blitzes and staffing moves in the months leading up to the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.

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“The numbers for the vice president are pretty anemic for one of the front-runners,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley. “Money is not going to be an issue for the Democrat who makes it to the general election, but as [the] campaign moves towards the early voting states, this is not a good sign.”

Mr. Biden defended his fundraising prowess Wednesday, telling reporters that he entered the race later than other candidates.

“We did not start off by dropping $10 million from a Senate campaign, wherever [that] money was raised from, into a race,” he said.

That’s a dig at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has transferred at least $10.4 million from her 2018 Senate account to her presidential campaign and has caught or passed Mr. Biden in many recent polls.

“Our fundraising is building,” Mr. Biden said. “We’ve raised a lot of money online, and we’ve raised money off-line as well … so we feel confident we’re going to be ready.”

After Mr. Sanders’ $33.7 million cash on hand, Ms. Warren was next at $25.7 million, followed by Pete Buttigieg, mayor South Bend, Indiana, at $23.3 million, Sen. Kamala D. Harris at $10.5 million, and Mr. Biden at just shy of $9 million.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang was next with about $6.4 million. He was followed by Sen. Cory A. Booker with $4 million, Sen. Amy Klobuchar with $3.7 million, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke with about $3.3 million.

Of those 10 candidates, just four took in more money than they spent over the last three months: Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Yang.

The leading contenders and some of the other lesser-known candidates had already released the top line figures for how much money they raised over the last three months, and Mr. Sanders led the field on that front as well, bringing in $25.3 million in contributions.

But cash on hand is the lifeblood of campaigns and is particularly critical in the coming months, said Neil Sroka, a spokesman for the liberal group Democracy for America.

“This is when people are making concrete decisions about how they’re going to spend money between now and the first caucuses and primaries,” Mr. Sroka said. “This is when those fourth-quarter decisions are made, and so if you don’t have the cash on hand to make those decisions you have to be a lot more cautious.”

Mr. Biden, long considered the front-runner in the race, was instead facing questions Wednesday about why Ms. Warren was the person other candidates were targeting in Tuesday’s debate.

“It’s kind of about time other people get questioned,” he said. “I think Elizabeth Warren’s done very well … but now that she has moved and is being taken more seriously, people are going to ask her — a little candor here — tell us how you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do.”

But Mr. Sroka said the reshuffled money picture might end up causing would-be Biden donors to take another look at Mr. Buttigieg as an alternative to the more liberal Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren.

The former vice president’s numbers are indicative of a “head for the doors” moment materializing in his campaign, he said.

“Or at least, the smart money would be heading toward the doors,” Mr. Sroka said. “It is remarkable that the current mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has nearly triple the amount of money on hand that the former vice president of the United States has.”

The numbers could be an indication that Mr. Biden’s base of support is a bit more tentative than that of other candidates, said Bertram Johnson, a professor of political science at Middlebury College.

“The vast majority of people who vote for you are not going to be contributors, but you do want a base of enthusiastic contributors because those people are the activists that can sustain your campaign,” he said. “And for an establishment candidate like Biden to be falling behind seems a little strange to me.”

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