Sanders’ Fundraising Surges Again as the Candidates Get Testy
Policy + Politics

Sanders’ Fundraising Surges Again as the Candidates Get Testy

Bernie Sanders broke his monthly fundraising record in March, taking in more than $44 million and ensuring that he can continue to battle Hillary Clinton for weeks, if not months, to come.

"What this campaign is doing is bringing together millions of people contributing an average of just $27 each to take on a billionaire class which is so used to buying elections,” Sanders said in a statement.

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The haul broke the Vermont lawmaker’s record $43.5 million mark set in February, raising roughly $5 million on the last day of March. The self-described democratic-socialist has raised a total of $109 million in the first quarter of 2016 and has bested Clinton over the last couple months.

The fundraising windfall comes as the Democratic primary is taking on a new, nasty tone.

The increased friction boils down to this: Clinton’s campaign believes the former secretary of state has a nearly insurmountable lead in terms of delegates and believes Sanders should tone down his rhetoric to avoid damaging her before the general election against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

But it’s clear that Sanders, and his supporters, aren’t about to back off.

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At a campaign event in New York on Thursday an activist from Greenpeace approached Clinton to ask if she would "reject fossil-fuel money in the future" in her campaign. Visibly annoyed, the former First Lady replied that she has only received contribution from oil company employees, not the firms themselves.

“I am so sick, I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it,” Clinton said.

Sanders’ camp is trying to make the most out of rare flare-up by demanding Clinton apologize for her remarks.

“I think she probably owes the senator an apology for that because the senator is not lying about her record,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said Friday on MSNBC.

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Weaver later issued a statement citing research from a Greenpeace report that claims she accepts donations from industry lobbyists and bundlers.

“If the Clinton campaign wants to argue that industry lobbyists giving thousands of dollars to her campaign won’t affect her decisions if she’s elected, that’s fine,” he said. “But to call us liars for pointing out basic facts about the secretary’s fundraising is deeply cynical and very disappointing.”

The back-and-forth promises to grow more heated ahead of Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin. Sanders leads Clinton by slightly more than 2 percent in the state, according to the latest Real Clear Politics average of polls.

A Sanders win next week, following his clean sweep of three states last weekend, could once again make Clinton’s operatives nervous that her frontrunner status is weakening.

The 74-year-old Sanders is certainly sounding confident these days, predicting he will beat Clinton in New York, the state she represented in the U.S. Senate, when it holds its primary on April 19.

“We are going to win New York,” the Brooklyn native said on CBS This Morning.

“We’re going to do rallies all over the state, and I think we have a good shot at this,” he added.

Clinton leads Sanders by 27 points in the Empire State, according to the poll average from Real Clear Politics. But Sanders is gaining steam: A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows him down only 12 points to Clinton, 54 to 42 percent.