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How 2016 candidates are fundraising their war chests

Gwen Ifill talks to Tamara Keith of NPR and Susan Page of USA Today about what the latest campaign fundraising numbers tell us about Hillary Clinton and Sen. Ted Cruz, and how Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are putting pressure on other candidates in the race.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Fourth of July brought parades, patriotism and even a few fireworks to the campaign trail.

    No better time, then, for Politics Monday, our weekly look at the state of the campaign.

    Joining me tonight, Tamara Keith of NPR and Susan Page of USA Today.

    Ladies, let’s follow the money. Let’s talk about what some of these candidates have said they have been raising. We see that in the three-month period that people have been measuring, Hillary Clinton says she’s raised $45 million, Bernie Sanders in that same period of time, for someone who has not taken as being a real challenge to her on some levels, $15 million, Ted Cruz $14 million, and Ben Carson $8.3 million, which is also not chicken feed.

    So, where is all this money coming from and from whom?

  • TAMARA KEITH, NPR:

    Well, for Hillary Clinton, it’s coming from a mix.

    She has been doing a lot of big-dollar fund-raisers, about $2,700 fund-raisers per head. That’s the max that someone could get for the primary. She has done these like three, four fund-raisers a day, where if you add it up it’s something like $1 million in a single day.

    At the same time, she’s also been trying to get a lot of small donors, and when this number came out, her campaign was careful to say, and look at this; 91 percent of our donations were for $100 or less. They definitely want to promote the lower number.

    Bernie Sanders, he isn’t having any big-dollar fund-raisers and his campaign is very proud that the average donation is something like $33. And it’s pretty remarkable to raise $15 million $33 at a time.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    I’m also interested that a lot of candidates, including Ted Cruz, who, even though he raised $14 million, put out a statement that he — that plus his uncoordinated — uncoordinated PAC has actually — political action committee — has actually raised a lot more.

    How much are these candidates informally depending on the PACs?

  • SUSAN PAGE, USA Today:

    Well, a lot.

    And even though we’re breaking records here, Hillary Clinton broke the record that Barack Obama set in the 2016 campaign for first-quarter fund-raising, $45 million. That is going to be dwarfed by what Hillary Clinton-related super PACs and PACs are going to be raising and spending on her behalf.

    And they’re not supposed to be coordinated. It’s interesting that Ted Cruz felt free to cite that as part of his total, not illegal, but it does give the lie to the technical rule that they’re supposed to be uncoordinated. In fact, they’re staffed by the people who used to work for the candidates. There is all kinds of relationships there that they can count on.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    OK.

    Let’s talk about the squeeze from the right and the left, especially starting with the Democratic side. On the right, we have Jim Webb getting into the race and basically running to the right of Hillary Clinton. And we have Bernie Sanders, who is attracting huge crowds running to the left of Hillary Clinton, and near as we can tell. Is this having an effect on Hillary Clinton?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    I think that what Hillary Clinton would say is that she’s continuing to run her own race.

    And if you look at what she’s doing — tomorrow, she’s doing an interview on CNN. This will be her first sit-down televised interview, national televised interview of this campaign. Her campaign had told us a couple of months ago that they were planning to start rolling these interviews out over the summer.

    So even things that seem like it might be like she’s running scared, actually, it all seems to be part of their playbook. It doesn’t seem like they have changed the playbook just yet.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    What about that, Susan?

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    I think that they’re concerned.

    And I think they’re concerned because, number one, not so much that Bernie Sanders is going to take the nomination away from her. I think that’s extremely unlikely. He is getting these huge crowds. And he’s got a message that is resonating with a lot of Democrats. It’s a more liberal message, a more progressive message than she would naturally articulate. That is putting pressure on her on things like the free trade pact.

    And, also, his manner. She has got all kinds of problems in looking approachable and looking like she’s a fully-fledged human being. And he’s all — he’s just totally approachable. He’s 100 percent authentic, approachable Bernie Sanders. So I think the contrast is not helpful to her.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Go ahead.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    I was just going to say that when I talk to people out when I’m reporting, they say things like, gosh, Bernie Sanders is just so real.

    And it creates that contrast with Hillary Clinton, who has been in public life for so long. She’s had her picture taken so many times that she has that smile down just right. And Bernie is just out there being Bernie. And so it does create sort of a stylistic contrast for people.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    On the Republican side, the pressure, the squeeze seems to be brought on Republican candidates by one Donald Trump, who, because of what he said in his announcement about Mexicans and many of them being rapists, even though he’s sure some of them are OK, has put a lot of Republican candidates into the position of having to respond, denounce, distance themselves?

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    But not that eager to do so, because the fact is Donald Trump has a message that appeals to some Republican voters with a very hard line on immigration.

    It took a while. It took a week for other Republican candidates to come out and to be critical of him, even though this is very bad news, I think, for the Republican Party in a general election. The Republicans will not win the White House unless they do better among Hispanic voters than Mitt Romney did. And they are not going to do better among Hispanic voters if they have a line on immigration that is offensive to so many Hispanics.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    How difficult — for instance, Jeb Bush came out today and said he found it offensive. He’s married to a woman who was born in Mexico. And Donald Trump’s response was, well, he had to do that because of his wife.

    Which…

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Well, Donald Trump has deleted that tweet.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Did he really?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    He did.

    I think, in some ways, Donald Trump is the ultimate Twitter troll, and a lot of these candidates were trying not to feed the troll for a while. And then they realized, oh, wait, he is saying things that are damaging.

    And so, Jeb Bush came out relatively early, though, fact is Donald Trump made these remarks June 16. It is now July 6 — 7.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Took a long time.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    It took a very long time.

    But Jeb Bush did ultimately, Marco Rubio, several other candidates. Ted Cruz is the only one who said he didn’t want to get involved in this Republican-on-Republican fighting.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Yes.

    Well, the other interesting thing this and other things do is make candidates like Chris Christie, who was once considered to be the moderate in this race, and Scott Walker, considered to be social conservative, they’re not necessarily exactly where they started out, are they?

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    Well, Chris Christie has now a very narrow path ahead of him.

    And you saw him go straight to New Hampshire after his announcement, because that New Hampshire straight talk express, that is what he’s hoping to get on. He has got a tough road ahead of him.

    Scott Walker, it’s interesting, because he has made a good early impression. But his chips are all in Iowa. He needs to win. If Chris Christie has to win in New Hampshire, Scott Walker has to win in Iowa. And we know that social conservatives, evangelical voters are a really powerful part of the Iowa caucuses.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Fifteen seconds on Scott Walker.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    The interesting thing about Scott Walker is that when he was running for reelection in Wisconsin, he was all about, I can be a blue state governor.

    Now he’s running in Iowa, needs to win Iowa. And his preacher’s son, social conservative side is coming out more than it did in that reelection not that long ago.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Candidate’s got to do what a candidate’s got to do.

    Tamara Keith and Susan Page, thank you both very much.

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    Thank you.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    You’re welcome.

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