Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and presumed presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg released preliminary campaign fundraising figures for the first quarter of 2019, and says he has raised an eye-popping $7 million. That figure, according to a report from The Hill, is impressive not only for the sheer numbers but also considering the fact that as mayor of a medium-sized, not terribly well-known Midwestern city, Buttigieg himself was mostly unknown on the national stage when he first began exploring the idea of running.
While the official figures for candidate fundraising aren't due until April 15, many candidates are previewing their numbers in an effort to bolster support and give themselves a leg up as the crowded field of Democrat candidates shakes out. With the first debate still three months away, showing off raw fundraising numbers is seen as a potent weapon to signal a candidate's viability.
"This is just a preliminary analysis, but our team's initial report shows we raised over $7 million dollars in Q1 of this year," Buttigieg tweeted.
"We (you) are out-performing expectations at every turn," he added. "I'll have a more complete analysis later, but until then: a big thank you to all our supporters."
The first openly gay Democratic candidate for president has an outspoken style that has resonated with younger voters, soaring into the top three choices in a recent poll in Iowa, behind only Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former vice president Joe Biden. Last month, Buttigieg announced that he had already surpassed the threshold of 76,000 donations from individual supporters, the figure needed to guarantee him a spot at the first Democrat debate of the 2020 primary season.
But with increased recognition comes increased scrutiny, and Buttigieg has already landed himself in his first mini-controversy over comments he made regarding the 2016 campaign of then-candidate Hillary Clinton, as reported by CNN. When Buttigieg noted in a January interview that then-candidate Donald Trump won in part because "he pointed out the huge troubles in our economy and our democracy," and that Clinton's strategy of saying "America is already great" didn't resonate with voters who are struggling, Buttigieg received major pushback from Clinton supporters.
"Just to make this clear, I think America would be a much better place if she were President," Buttigieg said, clarifying his previous comments. "That's why I voted for her and that's why I campaigned for her, and I have enormous respect for Secretary Clinton."
However, in a subsequent interview, Buttigieg further explained his side, noting that what he originally said wasn't a "knock on any individual," but rather a lesson that should be taken from the generally unexpected Democrat loss in 2016 that blindsided the party and left it reeling. He suggested it was a lesson that should be reckoned with, and applied to future campaigns if the party wants to win back the White House. Buttigieg added that in his view, in 2016 people saw Clinton's message "as basically saying that everything was just fine, and we should just believe in the system."
"And that was unconvincing," he added.