- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2020

Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont raised $34.5 million over the last three months, showing his financial strength roughly a month out from the first contest in the 2020 Democratic nomination race for president.

After bringing in $25.3 million in the third quarter, Mr. Sanders again paced the 2020 Democratic field in the money race and easily out-raised more moderate rivals like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Mr. Sanders’ team said the latest haul, which included 40,000 new donors, is evidence that “people power” is on their side headed toward the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.

“We felt strongly that as we headed into the fourth quarter, people would start to come back home to Bernie Sanders,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said on CNN. “Because they would see in him both the candidate who’s best-positioned to defeat Donald Trump, but also the candidate who they trust to make that change happen that they so desperately want.”

The campaign said he raised more than $18 million in December, marking its best single month of the campaign.

“It was a surprisingly large number,” said Neil Sroka, a spokesman for the liberal group Democracy for America. “I think everyone was fairly confident that he was going to do better than he did in previous cycles, but when I saw the number this morning it was kind of a ‘wow’ moment.”

Mr. Sanders is well ahead of other 2020 Democratic contenders who announced their end-of-year money totals this week.

Mr. Biden’s team said on Thursday that he brought in $22.7 million — his best quarter to date and up from $15.7 million over the previous three months.

Mr. Buttigieg raised close to $25 million last quarter, which was an increase from the $19.2 million he raised in July, August, and September.

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang raised more than $16.5 million, up from about $10 million in the third quarter. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii pulled in $3.4 million, up from about $3 million in the previous quarter.

Mr. Sanders has sworn off support from major corporations and super PACs — a strategy Mr. Shakir said would carry over to a potential general election match-up against President Trump.

“We will hold firm. We will not change a damn thing. It is working,” he said. “We’re not going to go into a general election suddenly claiming that we’re going to need money from millionaires and billionaires. We don’t need that money.”

For its part, Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign announced Thursday that it raised $46 million in the fourth quarter and finished the year with $102.7 million on hand.

The 2020 Democratic candidates who disclosed their most recent hauls did not say how much money they had on hand. That data point will provide a clearer picture on which campaigns are built to last for a months-long sprint toward the nomination.

Mr. Sanders is currently in second place in Iowa behind Mr. Buttigieg and is leading in New Hampshire, according to the latest averages from Real Clear Politics.

“I think everyone sold him short in 2016,” said Mr. Sroka, whose group endorsed Mr. Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary contest. “People made a real mistake counting him out throughout 2019, and I think going into 2020 it’s impossible to count him out.”

Unlike the 2016 campaign, though, Mr. Sanders now has a bona fide liberal rival in Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts competing with him for support from the far left.

But Ms. Warren said in a fundraising pitch on Monday that she had raised about $17 million in the fourth quarter, meaning she could well fall short of the $24.6 million total she posted in the third quarter.

The Massachusetts Democrat has also slipped in some recent polling as she struggles to explain her health care plan, after saying earlier in the campaign that she was with Mr. Sanders on “Medicare for All.”

Mr. Sanders has bounced back from a heart attack he suffered three months ago, an incident that led some to speculate that the health scare could effectively spell the end for the campaign of the 78-year-old.

Earlier this week, his campaign released notes from several doctors attesting to Mr. Sanders’ overall health.

“You are in good health currently and you have been engaging vigorously in the rigors of your campaign, travel, and other scheduled activities without any limitation,” said Dr. Brian P. Monahan, Mr. Sanders’ primary doctor.

Mr. Sanders is easily outpacing other candidates who have tried to pitch their ideas as more realistic alternatives to his far-left vision for the country.

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado on Thursday rolled out a $6 trillion set of health, education and tax proposals as his answer to Mr. Sanders, saying Democrats shouldn’t spend the next 10 years fighting a “losing battle” on Medicare for All.

“The choice we face in this primary is between unrealistic promises that will only breed further cynicism in our politics and building political momentum to achieve actual progress for people who need it,” Mr. Bennet said.

But Mr. Bennet, who said this week he’s shooting for a top-three finish in New Hampshire, hasn’t qualified for any of the recent debates and is struggling to attract attention for his campaign.

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