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Supporters wave signs while waiting for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to speak at a New Year's Eve campaign event on December 31, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

'We Will Not Change a Damn Thing': Sanders Campaign Vows No Pivot to Big Money in General Election

"If you have Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden telling you that they need to kowtow at the altar of the rich to fundraise in the general election, they're wrong. We're upending those notions."

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders has no plans to abandon his effective grassroots fundraising model and begin accepting billionaire cash if he makes it to the general election against President Donald Trump, the Vermont senator's campaign manager said Thursday.

"We're not gonna go into a general election... suddenly claiming that we're gonna need money from millionaires and billionaires. We don't need that money."
—Faiz Shakir, Sanders campaign manager

"We will hold firm, we will not change a damn thing," Faiz Shakir told CNN's Ryan Nobles in an interview, hours after the Sanders campaign announced it raised $34.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. Trump's reelection campaign, which has been fueled in part by super PACs and corporate money, said Thursday it brought in $46 million during the final three months of 2019.

"It is working, and the reason it's working is the working class believes in Bernie Sanders to defeat Donald Trump," said Shakir. "You've got somebody who has built a vast grassroots network, has been fighting for the working class, has built his credibility on it. We're not gonna go into a general election... suddenly claiming that we're gonna need money from millionaires and billionaires. We don't need that money."

Shakir said the claim that Democrats must accept big donations from millionaires and billionaires in order to compete with Republicans—advanced most recently by Pete Buttigieg—is mistaken and damaging to progressive policy goals.

"If you have Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden telling you that they need to kowtow at the altar of the rich to fundraise in the general election, they're wrong," said Shakir. "We're upending those notions. You can fund this totally in a grassroots way."

Watch:

As Common Dreams reported Thursday, Sanders posted the largest single-quarter fundraising haul of any Democratic primary candidate so far, with an average donation of just over $18. The campaign said 99.9 percent of Sanders' donors have not maxed out, meaning they can contribute again.

In an email to supporters on Wednesday, Sanders expressed confidence that his small-dollar fundraising model can be scaled up to meet the demands of a long and expensive general election campaign.

"Against Trump, I believe we will have 50 million individual contributions, at least," Sanders wrote. "And at $27 a piece, that would be more than $1 billion. It's absolutely obscene and outrageous that an election would cost that much money, but our campaign has proven we will be able to raise more than enough money to win."


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