Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and other presidential candidates race for money
WASHINGTON — Democrat Hillary Clinton is emailing supporters to warn that her foes are “rooting for us to fail.” Republican Jeb Bush, meanwhile, is offering bundlers who raise $50,000 a chance to mingle with two former presidents.
The 2016 presidential contenders are scrambling for donations ahead of Wednesday’s quarterly fundraising deadline, aiming to build war chests that demonstrate they can outlast their opponents in a White House contest that remains deeply unsettled.
Clinton, who collected a record $47.5 million during the April-to-June quarter, now faces a surging Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, nearly daily disclosures about her use of a private email server as secretary of State and the possibility that Vice President Biden will mount a late-breaking challenge to her campaign for the nomination.
Bush, whose super PAC pulled in more than $100 million during the first half of the year, is working to bolster the donations flowing directly to his campaign, a crucial measure of whether the former Florida governor has the support of rank-and-file Republican donors, even as he slips in the polls.
“There’s a lot at stake for Jeb Bush in this quarter financially,” said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, who has not yet backed a candidate in the primary.
Bush pulled in $11.4 million in “hard money” through the end of June that he can use to fund his own travel, staff and advertising, and he is working aggressively to draw in more funds. His brother, former president George W. Bush, has raised money on his behalf, and his father, former president George H.W. Bush, sent out a fundraising appeal Tuesday.
Both former presidents are slated to appear at a Jeb Bush donor summit later this year in Houston.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who abruptly departed the GOP race this month despite the support of a well-funded super PAC, demonstrated that candidates need to “have hard financial resources they can control,” Cullen said.
Bush’s supporters say they are confident he has the war chest and organizational know-how to outlast the 14 other Republicans in the field.
“Steady wins the race,” said David Beightol, a Bush fundraiser and co-founder of the Washington lobbying firm Flywheel Government Solutions. “When you are undertaking a presidential campaign, it’s like building a $1 billion business and then quickly disbanding it. Not everyone knows how to do that.”
Meanwhile, other Republicans, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former businesswoman Carly Fiorina, are seeking to capitalize on Walker’s political demise and their own strong performances in recent GOP debates.
Bob Pence, a shopping-mall developer in Northern Virginia, supported both Walker and Rubio this year, but now “it’s Marco Rubio all the way,” he said. He’s raising money for the campaign.
Pence said a “fair” number of Walker’s supporters have migrated to Rubio’s campaign. “The quarter is going to be fine,” he said. “We’re not going to run out of money. We will have money to stay in through March.”
The campaigns themselves are not disclosing fundraising totals. While the quarter ends Wednesday, candidates don’t have to file reports on their contributions and expenses until Oct. 15.
The contenders are leaving little to chance. On Monday alone, Clinton headlined three fundraisers in California, where nearly 600 people contributed anywhere from $1,000 to $2,700 apiece to attend.
In recent days, her campaign has bombarded supporters with emails. In a Sunday email, Clinton warned her rivals will “take a hard look at our fundraising report, trying to find signs of weakness.”
“Don’t give them a single moment of satisfaction,” she said, asking for $1 donations.
Clinton’s aides won’t discuss fundraising numbers but insist she’s on target to hit her long-standing goal of raising $100 million in 2015.
To do so, Clinton needs to collect more than $26 million in the soon-to-be-completed July-to-September fundraising period and raise a similar amount in the October-to-December quarter.
The big question: Can Sanders match or exceed that total when he discloses what he has raised from July 1 through Sept. 30?
Sanders, who did not announce his candidacy until April 30, quickly raised $15 million in a two-month period. The lion’s share of his money came from small donors whom he can tap repeatedly for contributions before they hit the $2,700 cap on the amount an individual can give to Sanders for the primary.
Sanders’ aides did not respond to interview requests this week, but in emails to supporters, they claim to be close to receiving 1 million online donations.