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Biden suggests he has raised nearly $20 million for his White House bid

Former vice president Joe Biden speaks in Washington on Monday.
Former vice president Joe Biden speaks in Washington on Monday. (Gabriella Angotti-Jones/Bloomberg News)

Joe Biden suggested at a Manhattan fundraiser Monday night that his presidential campaign has taken in close to $20 million, offering a glimpse of his fundraising prowess in the early stages of the crowded Democratic primary.

Toward the end of his remarks, the former vice president shared that his campaign had raised money from 360,000 donors, with an average contribution of $55. That works out to $19.8 million.

If that’s the case, the former vice president’s haul would eclipse that of any of the other Democratic White House hopefuls in the first quarter of the year, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who reported taking in $18.2 million from about 500,000 donors. Sanders also reported an additional $2.5 million in transfers from previous campaigns.

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It is unclear whether the Biden campaign intended to release his figures publicly. Typically, campaigns wait until the close of the quarter to announce their fundraising tallies. This fundraising quarter ends June 30. The Federal Election Commission will make candidate filings public July 15.

Biden entered the campaign April 25, past the first campaign fundraising disclosure deadline and later than many rivals.

He spoke at an event at the Upper East Side home of Jim Chanos, president and founder of Kynikos Associates, a prominent short-selling investment firm. Biden told supporters that their contributions have “allowed me to be able to compete in a way that I’ve never been able to before.”

“We’ve raised a great deal of money,” he said.

He added that supporters were vouching for him by writing him checks, “which is essentially saying: ‘I respect this person. I think this person will do a good job.’ ”

About 180 guests attended the fundraiser at Chanos’s penthouse apartment, where they mingled, sipped wine and chatted on a terrace.

Biden’s campaign declined to comment further Monday evening.

His campaign announced that it had raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours after he entered the race, the largest take among the candidates. Biden’s efforts were boosted by a large-dollar fundraiser on the first day of the campaign, as well as Facebook ads targeted at generating first-day donations.

In addition to Biden and Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) are expected to post high figures in the second quarter — an important deadline that will provide an indication of which of the nearly two dozen candidates have risen to the top and which ones are rapidly spending their money as they raise it.

Later Monday night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), another of Biden’s Democratic rivals, took an apparent dig at him, writing on Twitter: “I don’t spend time at fancy fundraisers. Instead, I spend my time meeting voters and thanking grassroots donors who chip in what they can. Donate $3 to my campaign, and you might just get a call from me to thank you!”