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Biden raises $5.3M in online donations in October

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign announced Friday that it raised $5.3 million in online donations last month as the former vice president seeks to reassure voters as to the vitality of his White House bid.

“Folks, we can’t thank you enough for your support,” the campaign said in an email to supporters, noting that October was its best online fundraising month since its launch. “We know with you on our side, we are going to win this nomination and defeat Donald Trump.”

The campaign confirmed to The Hill that it had 182,000 online donations last month, the most since its launch, and that the average contribution was $28.29.

The fundraising boost comes amid Democratic hand-wringing over the Biden campaign’s finances — while it reported a $15.2 million haul in the third quarter of 2019, that total fell millions of dollars behind the third-quarter hauls of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

The former vice president also finished the third quarter with just under $9 million cash on hand, while Sanders, Warren, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had $33.7 million, $25.7 million, $23.4 million and $10.5 million, respectively.

The fundraising concerns coincided with a slip in the polls, which was exacerbated as Warren surged in national and early state polls. However, Biden still leads in many surveys, and has a 5.4-point edge in the RealClearPolitics polling index.

The campaign sent out an appeal to supporters in the middle of October, saying it was “worried” about its amount of cash on hand. 

“The first votes will be cast in this primary starting February 3, 2020 — just over 100 days from now — and we need to be fueling our grassroots efforts in crucial states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina,” Elana Firsht, the Biden campaign’s online fundraising director, said in a frank fundraising email to supporters. “We can’t afford to fall behind, so I’m asking you to step up now and make a donation to fuel our campaign.” 

The campaign Friday indicated that it is comfortable with where it stands in the money race, saying it posted smaller figures than some competitors because it had spent funds on building out critical infrastructure.

“We knew we were going to have to spend money and we were comfortable with that,” Pete Kavanaugh, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, told The Associated Press. “You always want more money. But we believe we had made the right decision. We’d rather end with $9 million on hand than not make those investments.”

Kavanaugh also pointed to President Trump‘s sustained attacks on Biden over unfounded corruption allegations regarding his dealings with Ukraine and the House’s new impeachment investigation as sparking support for the former vice president.

“All of the Trump attacks have started to catalyze. More people understand what is at stake,” Kavanaugh told the AP. “People out there are seeing Joe Biden getting attacked day after day. They understand he needs to fight back.”

“Right around the time the Ukraine stuff broke wide open and [Trump] made clear that he and the [Republican National Committee] were going to spend money attacking Biden — that’s when you see this start to change,” he added. “It got people to snap to attention.”

Biden faced criticism from his opponents last month after his campaign signaled openness to using a super PAC to boost his 2020 bid.

The use of super PACs has become a contentious issue within the Democratic presidential primary, Warren and Sanders vowing not to work with the PACs. 

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