By Simon Lewis and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Bernie Sanders raised more than $34.5 million in the last quarter of 2019, the largest three-month haul for a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, while Republican President Donald Trump drew $46 million on the heels of his impeachment, their campaigns said on Thursday.
Former Vice President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that his campaign raised $22.7 million in the same period, up from the $15.2 million he brought in the previous three months.
The new figures took Sanders’ total campaign fundraising last year to $96 million, making him the leading fundraiser so far among 14 Democrats vying to face Trump in November’s presidential election. States begin choosing candidates next month with the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 3.
Trump, a polarizing president popular with a large majority of Republicans but vilified by many Democrats, maintained his formidable fundraising edge over Democrats with a surge of donations following his impeachment last month by the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
“Democrats and the media have been in a sham impeachment frenzy and the president’s campaign only got bigger and stronger with our best fundraising quarter this cycle,” his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in a statement.
The Trump campaign’s latest quarter eclipsed a third-quarter fundraising haul of nearly $41 million.
Biden’s campaign pointed to continued attacks by Trump as the reason for his uptick in fundraising.
“These numbers clearly demonstrate Donald Trump’s lies and attacks on the vice president have only cemented and expanded his support, serving as a constant reminder to Democratic primary voters that Trump is terrified by the idea of facing Joe Biden in a general election,” Greg Schultz, Biden’s campaign manager, said.
Biden, despite continuing to lead most national public opinion polls, had lackluster fundraising totals after the third quarter. His $22.7 million in the fourth quarter is likely to keep him competitive with rivals.
Pete Buttigieg raised $24.7 million in the fourth quarter, a hefty total expected to land him among the top fundraisers in the Democratic field. Businessman Andrew Yang raised $16.5 million, well over the nearly $10 million he took in previous quarter.
The other candidates, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, who currently remains in the top tier of hopefuls, have not released their latest figures.
Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont who wants to reduce the sway of corporate America and economic inequality, has built his campaign on small donations, largely through online fundraising from an ethnically diverse, mostly young coalition of supporters.
Campaign manager Faiz Shakir said Sanders’ “grassroots movement” showed he was the best placed candidate to defeat Trump.
“He is proving each and every day that working class Americans are ready and willing to fully fund a campaign that stands up for them and takes on the biggest corporations and the wealthy,” Shakir said in a statement.
Sanders, 78, bounced back from a heart attack in early October to win growing support for his platform of expanding government-run healthcare, making college free, and investment in renewable energy paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy.
Two billionaires in the Democratic race, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg, are relying on their own money to fund their campaigns but have not released latest funding figures.
Bloomberg has spent more than $76 million on television ads since Nov. 16, while Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg have spent a combined $13.2 million all year, according to an analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project citing Kantar/CMAG political ad data.
The New York media mogul, who only entered the race in November, has outspent Steyer, who has put more than $72 million into TV ads this year.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis, Steve Holland, Joseph Ax; Writing by Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)