Politics

Bernie Sanders Raises $1.3 Million During First Democratic Presidential Debate

| by Meg O'Connor
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont speaking with supporters at a town meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont speaking with supporters at a town meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Vermont Senator and self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist Bernie Sanders raised more than $1.3 million in the first four hours after the Democratic presidential debate began, according to his campaign.

Sanders, who refuses to accept money from Super PACs, has said that he is "running a people's campaign," with a vast majority of money raised so far coming from individual donors, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Michael Briggs, a spokesman for the Sanders campaign, said Sanders took in more than 37,600 individual contributions, with an average donation of $34.58, during the four-hour time period, USA Today reports.

Sanders, initially considered an unlikely candidate, has become a serious contender and has continuously drawn massive crowds throughout his campaign trail, including 28,000 supporters at an event in Portland, Oregon, this August, and 20,000 at a rally in Boston in October, the Tribune reported.

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During his 90-second closing remarks, Sanders took the opportunity to ask his supporters directly to make a small donation.

Before the debate was even over, Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, emailed supporters a video clip of one of the more humorous moments of the debate, in which Sanders came to his competitor's aid, according to USA Today. While Democratic front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was responding to a question about her email scandal, Sanders chimed in, saying that the "American people are tired of hearing about" her "damn emails." Weaver ended the email by asking supporting to send a small donation "before Bernie steps off the stage."

Clinton's campaign aides made a similar move, sending out a mid-debate email with the subject line "turn on your TV" and asking supporters to "chip in $1 right now and show her you're with her."

Yet as of the morning of Oct. 14, Clinton's campaign staffers have not revealed whether her performance in the first Democratic debate won her substantial monetary support. 

Clinton accepts money from Super PACs, and her campaign contributions so far consist mainly of large donations from groups like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, according to The Center for Responsive Politics.

Shockingly, Sanders raised $26 million for his campaign during the summer -- just $2 million short of Clinton's haul.

Sources: USA Today, Chicago Tribune

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Phil Roeder/Flickr