Sen. Bernie Sanders is spending money on his Democratic presidential campaign at a rate that dwarfs the spending of Republican businessman Donald Trump, a billionaire capitalist who embodies the privileged class Sanders is railing against in what he sees as a fight for the middle class.
The Sanders campaign has dropped $122.6 million on the election so far, nearly four times the Trump campaign’s $33.4 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. In total, Sanders has raised roughly $140 million to Trump’s $35 million.
Trump does benefit from seemingly endless media attention and decades of national name recognition, as well as being the Republican front-runner. Sanders, a far second to Clinton in the Democratic primary, is picking up steam but still fighting to stay afloat. His loyal base helps him raise large amounts of campaign cash, which he needs to spend if he wants a chance at besting Clinton.
Nevertheless the contrast between the spending of Sanders, a Democratic-socialist who is rooting his campaign in an opposition to the so-called evils of the wealthy business class, and Trump is striking.
A major plank of Sanders’ bid for the presidency is to eliminate the influence of outside money in politics, specifically from super PACs. Although PACs have spent less than a million dollars in advertising for Sanders, compared to tens of millions from PACs for other candidates, critics have seized on that boost as hypocritical given Sanders position against PACs.
PACs supporting Sanders have responded to criticism over the matter by saying they have to play the game if they want to achieve their reforms, and Sanders himself has said he doesn’t actively solicit support from PACs.
“I don’t have a super PAC, and in the best of all possible worlds, which I hope to bring about, we will get rid of super PACs, we will overturn Citizens United,” Sanders told reporters in January.
“I do appreciate the irony,” RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, which has spent over $1 million on Sanders’ this cycle, told The New York Times. “All things being equal, we would rather not be doing this. On the other hand we want to see Bernie as president.”
Both of the democratic candidates are far outspending Trump and his Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz. Clinton, who regularly speaks about leveling the playing field and eliminating the corruption bred by current campaign finance laws, has raised nearly $160 million and spent roughly $130 million. Cruz has raised a comparatively meager $66 million, and spent about $58 million.
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