Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has gone on the charm offensive, courting wealthy donors at campaign events across the country, even as he eschews typical donations, instead relying on his vast personal fortune.
According to The New York Times, Bloomberg is signaling to high-powered individuals that he’s open to their involvement, even as he paints himself as immune to the influence of other people’s money.
The events are organized under a division of his campaign known as the Committee for Mike, which is managed by former top fundraisers for California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, both of whom ended their presidential bids in 2019.
Unlike the majority of leading presidential candidates, most of whom opened their fundraisers after pressure from progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Bloomberg’s appearances before Committee for Mike events have not been open to the media, nor have they been included on his public schedule.
“Some also give money to candidates and causes, but it’s more than that,” Bloomberg’s communications director Jason Schechter told the Times. “Donors are not just donors. They are also people who believe in the candidate, can proselytize to their friends, give feedback, build networks and get things done. Why lose that just because we aren’t taking their money?”
The approach comes amid a mad scramble for cash among non-billionaire candidates in the wake of the Iowa caucuses on Monday night, which the Associated Press said is still too close to call.
President Trump's campaign ended the year with nearly $103 million cash on hand, compared to the combined $64 million raised by Democratic hopefuls Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, according to new Federal Election Committee filings.
Although Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg burned through more cash than Biden, the three candidates each had millions more than the former vice president did at the end of the year. Biden raised and spent about $23 million from October through December and ended the year with about $9 million in the bank, while Sanders raked in $34 million but spent almost $50 million, leaving the self-described democratic socialist with a little over $18 million in the bank.
The need for cash will likely only increase ahead of Super Tuesday (March 3), when voters in 14 states cast their ballots. Democratic hopefuls also have to overcome Bloomberg’s unlimited funds. Already, he’s spent an estimated $300 million on blanketing the airwaves with ads and increasing his campaign’s payroll.
Bloomberg’s advisers deny he is deliberately trying to strangle fundraising for his 2020 rivals, who are dependent on the donations to keep their campaigns afloat.
Fundraising doesn't necessarily show who's going to win the primary, but it's an important indication of enthusiasm for a candidate and is necessary to propel the contenders through an arduous and expensive primary process.