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Sanders raised $46.5 mln in February, makes ad buys for states beyond Super Tuesday

By John Whitesides

By John Whitesides

WASHINGTON, March 1 (Reuters) - Democratic presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders raised $45 million in February, his campaign said on Sunday, and will launch new television ad buys in nine states with primaries later this month, after Super Tuesday's contests.

The announcement came the day after former vice president Joe Biden scored a decisive victory over Sanders in South Carolina, the fourth nominating contest in the Democratic race to pick a challenger to Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

The huge fundraising haul for Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, came from more than 2.2 million donations and surpassed what any Democratic candidate had raised in any full three-month quarter last year.

Looking to reclaim momentum after the South Carolina result, the Sanders campaign said he had raised $4.5 million on Saturday alone - making it the best fundraising day since he launched his campaign.

"The senator's multigenerational, multiracial working class coalition keeps fueling his campaign for transformational change a few bucks at a time," Faiz Shakir, Sanders' campaign manager, said in a statement.

Sanders was the first of the seven Democrats still competing for the nomination to report the amount of money they had raised in February. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, is self-funding his campaign and has spent a half-billion dollars to compete in the nominating contests beginning in March.

The February donations put Sanders in position to wage a long fight for the Democratic nomination. The campaign is on the air with television ads in 12 of the 14 states holding Super Tuesday primaries this week.

The Sanders campaign announced it is also buying television advertising time in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Washington, which hold nominating contests on March 10. It will also buy ads in Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, which hold contests on March 17.

The donations in February bring Sanders' total haul since he entered the race to $167 million, the campaign said.

(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)