By Simon Lewis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Bernie Sanders raised more than $34.5 million in the last quarter of 2019, his presidential campaign said on Thursday, the largest three-month haul of any Democrat so far in the contest to take on Republican President Donald Trump in a November election.
The announcement, which brings his total fundraising last year to $96 million, appears to confirm Sanders’ position as the leading fundraiser in the nominating contest, in which states begin caucusing and voting next month. Some candidates have not yet disclosed their fourth-quarter fundraising numbers.
U.S. Senator Sanders of Vermont, a Democrat who wants to reduce the sway of corporate America, has built his campaign on small donations, largely through online fundraising from an ethnically diverse and mostly young coalition of supporters.
Campaign manager Faiz Shakir said Sanders’ “grassroots movement” showed he was he 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, free college and investment in renewable energy paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy.
Sanders said this week that about 1.3 million Americans had donated to his campaign.
His campaign said the most common occupation among Sanders’ fourth-quarter donors was teacher, and the most common employers were Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, the U.S. Postal Service and Target.
Sanders is polling second in most national opinion polls behind former Vice President Joe Biden.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana – who is polling behind Biden, Sanders and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – raised $24.7 million in the fourth quarter, an increase on previous periods.
Republican President Donald Trump, who can raise funds together with the Republican National Committee for his 2020 reelection bid and is therefore able gather larger donations, has raised more than all the Democratic contenders in past periods, pulling in $125 million in the third quarter of 2019.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis. Editing by Gerry Doyle)