Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday reported a formidable fundraising total of $21.5 million — a burst of good news for the vice president after his stumbles in recent national polls.
That haul puts Biden, who announced his candidacy in late April and just completed his first fundraising quarter, in the top tier of Democratic presidential candidates in terms of money raised, though he is not leading the pack: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg reported on Monday he raised $25 million in the second quarter. Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, reported raising $18 million.
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Biden raised his sum in less time than those rivals: He had three fewer weeks in the quarter to raise money because he entered the race on April 25, though the former vice president and his campaign did lay groundwork for donations from supporters before he announced his candidacy. The Biden campaign also said it is “actively reimbursing” any checks it receives that are for the general election, which several other candidates in the race are not doing. General election donations allow enthusiastic donors to give more than the $2,800 maximum that is allowed for a primary election.
For Biden, who has spent recent weeks dogged by controversy over comments about working with segregationist senators in the past, showing that he can raise big money on the campaign trail is a welcome sign of forward momentum, as well as a reversal from his previous runs for office.
In the past, Biden lacked connections to wealthy donors that were more easily fostered by his one-time rivals in the party such as the Clintons and Barack Obama, and his 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns did not raise notable amounts of money.
But this year, he entered the race as the elder statesman running against several younger candidates, and many of Obama and Clinton’s former supporters, including former ambassadors and other major fundraisers, have stepped up to help Biden’s campaign.
Biden has hosted big-money fundraisers across the country, which he opened to the press in order to increase transparency. What remains to be seen is whether their support will continue as other candidates build their name recognition and increase for Biden’s donors.
Biden has worked to build an online fundraising program that can collect small-dollar donations, too. The Biden campaign raised money from more than 256,000 donors with an average donation at $49, the campaign said.