Hillary Clinton's attacks spur a massive Sanders fundraising surge

Bernie's seen a fourfold increase in campaign donations since Clinton launched her two-pronged offensive

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published January 14, 2016 3:11PM (EST)

  (AP/Jim Cole)
(AP/Jim Cole)

Weeks of attacks from the leading Democratic presidential candidate may have done little to blunt Bernie Sanders' recent surge in both national and early state polls, however, according to a new report in the Washington Post, attacks from the Hillary Clinton campaign have helped Sanders raise more than four times as much campaign cash this week as he averaged in the last quarter of 2015.

“Thanks, Team Clinton,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said Wednesday afternoon, according to the Post, crediting the rival campaign's recent offensive on the issues of guns and health care for the spike in campaign donations.

In her first campaign appearance of the cycle earlier this week, Clinton's daughter Chelsea charged that Sanders' universal health care plan threatened to "dismantle" nearly every existing public health care program and “strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance.”

The youngest Clinton's attack came after weeks of back-and-forth between the campaigns on the issue of gun control. "It is time to pick a side," Clinton implored in a newly released ad targeting Sanders for his past opposition to increased gun control. "Either we stand with the gun lobby or we join the President and stand up to them. I am with him." Sanders has come under withering attack for his 2005 vote to give immunity to gun manufacturers -- a vote for which he has been teetering between indirectly apologizing for and defending in recent days.

“To say that I’m kind of a supporter of the N.R.A. is really a mean-spirited and unfair and inaccurate statement,” Sanders said, defending himself in a interview on MSNBC Wednesday. And according to his campaign, Sanders' supporters apparently agree.

“As of now, we are at about $1.4 million raised since yesterday when the panic attacks by the Clinton campaign began,” Briggs told the Post. “We’ve gotten 47,000 contributions. We’re projecting 60,000 donations. Even for our people-powered campaign, this is pretty darn impressive.”

Sanders also received the first democratic primary endorsement from a national media outlet on Thursday.

"Sanders has used his insurgent campaign to tell Americans the truth about the challenges that confront us," the editors of the progressive The Nation magazine wrote of the Vermont senator, noting that the outlet has only ever endorsed two candidates during the Democratic primary -- Jesse Jackson in 1988 and Barack Obama in 2008.

And according to a new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll released today, Sanders and Clinton are tied in a statistical dead heat in Iowa. Clinton has the narrowest of leads (within the margin of error) with the support of 42 percent of likely Democratic caucus goers, compared to 40 percent for Sanders. Even more notable, Sanders leads Clinton "52 percent to 34 percent among first-time caucus-goers; 62 percent to 21 percent among independents; and 59 percent to 27 percent among people under 45," according to Bloomberg Politics -- the same coalition that delivered a surprise upset for Barack Obama in 2008.

For his part, Sanders came as close to directly attacking Clinton as he ever has during this campaign in a newly released 30-second ad set to run in Iowa and New Hampshire. “There are two Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street,” Sanders opens in the ad. "One says it's okay to take millions from big banks and then tell them what to do. My plan: break up the big banks, close the tax loopholes, and make them pay their fair share":

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By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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