How is the Democratic fundraising fight shaping the 2020 race?

JOHN YANG: The crowded race for the Democratic
presidential nomination has started to winnow, and this week we will learn which of the remaining
21 candidates will be on the debate stage next month. It’s likely just half of the field will meet
the polling and donor requirements. Lisa Desjardins reports that the 2020 hopefuls
are competing for attention and dollars. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), Presidential Candidate:
So, please, please go to and sign up and join our campaign. We need your help. LISA DESJARDINS: As the 2020 Democratic candidates
debate policy, at the heart of the crowded race is a fight for money. The race’s top five candidates in the polls
are also the top five fund-raisers. PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), Presidential Candidate:
I hope I can look to you to continue helping us grow this movement. LISA DESJARDINS: Leading the pack, the mayor
of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg. He raised nearly $25 million from April to
June of this year, according to financial filings. Former Vice President Joe Biden followed with
$22 million, then three senators, beginning with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren,
$19 million, then Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, $18 million, in fifth, California Senator
Kamala Harris, $11.8 million. REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), Presidential Candidate:
A dollar, $5, $10, whatever they can, to make sure that we’re able to get our message out
there. LISA DESJARDINS: After that, a stark gap in
the field, in both money raised and polling, with a brutal fight for funds among the remaining
candidates. MICHELLE YE HEE LEE, The Washington Post:
It’s been a real slog trying to come out of the crowd the LISA DESJARDINS: Michelle Ye Hee Lee covers
money and politics for The Washington Post. MICHELLE YE HEE LEE: The more and more that
the five do better, the gap just continues to grow. REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): I am running an insurgent
campaign. LISA DESJARDINS: Unable to close that distance,
Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton And Washington Governor Jay Inslee dropped out
of the race last week. Both had yet to meet fund-raising or polling
qualifications for the third Democratic debates in September. JULIAN CASTRO (D), Presidential Candidate:
People pitching in a dollar, $5, $10, $20. And that’s the spirit that I’m going to move
forward in, in this campaign. LISA DESJARDINS: Julian Castro last week became
only the 10th candidate to qualify for the debates. So far, that leaves 11 others off next month’s
stage. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), Presidential Candidate:
I am asking for your help. LISA DESJARDINS: But even the top five fund-raisers
have been struggling to pull in steady funds among the crowded field. And how they’re going about it varies greatly. MICHELLE YE HEE LEE: You see Joe Biden really
coming out of the gate with a fund-raiser, a private fund-raiser held at the Comcast
executive’s home. And he is — this is kind of like old school SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), Presidential Candidate:
I’m not taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) MICHELLE YE HEE LEE: At the other end of the
spectrum is Elizabeth Warren, who has rejected that type of fund-raising overall completely. And she’s only raising money from grassroots
donors, and she’s doing really well. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of
the United States. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) LISA DESJARDINS: And then there is President
Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, which he kicked off right after his inauguration
in 2017. Mr. Trump’s reelection effort has so far outraised
all the Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee combined by about $100
million, with a mix of small donors and multimillion-dollar closed fund-raisers. That’s giving his campaign a decided advantage
at targeting voters. MICHELLE YE HEE LEE: He’s been able to shape
the message online and on TV, run ads, really get to know the voter base very well, and
know how to reach these people, so that they could turn out on Election Day for him. LISA DESJARDINS: Democratic donors on the
other hand, especially the high-dollar ones, are largely still untapped. Many donors are still waiting for the race
to narrow before making their contributions, while smaller donors are spreading their money
across several different candidates. MICHELLE YE HEE LEE: They know the money is
out there. The question is whether the money spigot is
going to really open up in time for the presidential nominee to be able to catch up to the lead
that President Trump has. MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), Presidential Candidate:
Please give at least a dollar, so I can get those donations up. LISA DESJARDINS: Candidates who don’t make
the third debate stage in less than three weeks will likely need to reevaluate whether
they have the cash or support to stay in the race. And that’s good news for anxious Democratic
donors, who say a final Democratic nominee can’t come soon enough.

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