Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has tried to set herself apart in the early stages of the 2020 Democratic primary fight by swearing off high-dollar fundraisers and promising "equal access" to anyone who donates to her primary campaign.
She's alone in another, less favorable way too: She's mum on how much money she's raised with her reliance on grassroots donations.
Unlike fellow 2020 candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), who boasted about $6 million and $1.5 million fundraising hauls respectively within 24 hours of announcing their bids, Warren won't say how much she's raised. The Boston Globe noted she raised at least $299,000 on Dec. 31, when she announced her exploratory committee, but that's all the information available.
She officially launched her campaign on Feb. 9. The Globe asked Warren during a recent Iowa visit if her fundraising was lacking, and the newspaper noted she changed the subject.
"I’m just delighted to have this chance to get out and talk about what’s broken in this country and what we can do about it," she said. "Lots of people have contributed both money and time and I’m deeply grateful for that."
The Globe reports:
So far, the only peek into Warren’s fund-raising operation shows she raised at least $299,000 on Dec. 31, the day she announced her exploratory campaign — much less, it seems, than Harris or Sanders when they jumped in. She does, however, have a cool $11 million left over from her Senate re-election campaign.
Expectations had been high for Warren because, as a senator, she has been a fund-raising juggernaut. She raised $42.5 million for her first election in 2012, and another $35 million between then and her reelection bid last year. She became a sought-after surrogate who helped Democrats around the country bring in campaign cash.
"I remember times where she would go on Rachel Maddow on an issue around the campaign — we’d send an e-mail out and we’d raise 2, 3, or $400,000 dollars just from that appearance," said Doug Rubin, a top adviser to Warren’s 2012 campaign, who said he thought Warren’s pledge would excite new donors and bring them into the fold.
Republican National Committee spokesman Steve Guest told the Washington Free Beacon it was more proof Warren's campaign is a "disaster."
"Warren’s campaign has been a disaster from the moment she tried to clean up her lie about her heritage," Guest said. "She’s down in the polls and even Democrats aren’t enthusiastic about her campaign."
The Warren campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.
With a campaign message focused on fixing a corrupt economic and political system rigged in favor of wealthy elites, Warren has leaned hard into her populist bona fides on the trail. She often tells the story of her upbringing on the "ragged edge of the middle class" in Oklahoma and how her mother saved their family by getting a minimum-wage job when her father had a heart attack and nearly died.
She's recently tweeted out videos of phone calls she's made to supporters, and she often stays for pictures with any attendee who wants them after her campaign events.
However, unlike when she's been the square focus of her two Senate races, Warren is one of a field of Democrats running for president that's over a dozen and growing every week. She's not breaking through in any polls, consistently placing a distant fourth place among Democratic primary voters and also early-state voters.
Of particular concern has to be her shockingly poor numbers in her neighboring state of New Hampshire, where she's already made several visits. Warren came in at fourth place with just 9 percent support in a primary state that tends to reward nearby politicians, in a survey last month.
Warren still has $11 million left over from her Senate run, and she's been on the offensive with progressive policy proposals like an "ultra-millionaire tax" and a universal child care proposal. But she will need a considerable war chest to compete in what could be the deepest presidential primary field in history.
"If you’re kind of mum about it, things probably aren’t going so great," Patti Solis Doyle, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton in 2008, told the Globe.