Clinton will hold 58 fundraisers in the third quarter, which ends Wednesday
In Bay Area events this week, Clinton stayed away from attacks on Republicans or fellow Democrats
Hillary Clinton stayed on message during her final sprint towards the close of 2015’s third fundraising quarter, despite facing a surging Bernie Sanders and the possibility Vice President Joe Biden may join the race.
At closed fundraisers around the Bay Area on Monday and Tuesday, Clinton told familiar stories from her stump speech, talking more about policy and personal priorities than politics.
At a 150-person event at a hilltop home in Saratoga, Clinton called for investment in “a big infrastructure program” and told the audience of tech investors “that one of the biggest opportunities that we are missing is getting really serious in the fight against climate change.”
“I have set some big goals,” Clinton said, before talking at length about equal pay and affordable education and pledging to defend the Affordable Care Act. Though the event was closed, part of her speech was audible from the street.
She repeated her familiar line on women’s issues: Telling the audience that if Republicans want to say she is playing the gender card, her response is “deal me in!”
These events are very much in Clinton’s comfort zone and are part of a comprehensive effort to post an overwhelming fundraising number for the third quarter, which ends Wednesday. It is especially important now as Sanders has surged in the polls of late, and the email controversy continues to hamper her campaign.
Attendees at the four Bay Area fundraisers said Clinton rarely attacked Republicans and made no mention of Sanders or emails.
58 fundraisers each quarter
In total, Clinton will have personally headlined 58 fundraisers from July 1 to Sept. 30, a pace identical to the 58 fundraisers she headlined in the second quarter.
After leaving California, she headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a Monday night fundraiser hosted Erskine Bowles, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, and his wife, Crandall.
On Wednesday, the last day of the quarter, Clinton will headline a quarter closing party at the 40/40 Club, a club owned by rapper Jay-Z that is known more for its late night parties than its political fundraisers.
Based on CNN’s analysis of figures provided by the Clinton campaign, the 2016 candidate likely raised well above $22 million at the events she personally headlined, a figure that does not include fundraisers headlined by surrogates and the campaign’s digital fundraising operation.
Overall, the former secretary of state covered 22 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and spent most of her time in California (for 11 fundraisers) and New York (for 13 events).
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The campaign raised $45 million in the second quarter, the most ever raised by a campaign in their first full quarter, and while aides are hopeful they’ll post a similarly sizable haul, they are lowering expectations by saying the third quarter has historically been the least profitable for political campaigns.
Aides have long said that they hope to raise $100 million by the end of 2015, a goal that the campaign will likely be able to meet.
Fundraising totals are both practically and symbolically important. Money is the lifeblood of any presidential operations, but campaigns quarterly fundraising hauls are regularly used to show signs of strength and weakness.
And the amount of time Clinton has spent fundraising - the former first lady broke up her vacation to raise money in New York - ups the ante on her haul.
Inside the events
The small size of the events is helping Clinton win over people who already sizable amounts of money - between $1,000 and $2,700 - to meet her.
“Maybe it is always true that when you see somebody in person you really feel their humanness,” said Janet Harrington, a retired school teacher who attended the event in Saratoga. “But she seemed smart, sincere, and such a wonderful contrast to all those Republican clowns.”
Harrington said she fell in love with Obama in 2008 and went into the Monday event hoping to “feel that same kind of enthusiasm for Hillary.” After the event, Harrington said Clinton “put me over the edge.”
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Other attendees, like Ruchi Goyal, an engineer and product executive at eBay, said she was struck by how much time Clinton spoke about policy, particularly issues not always discussed like infrastructure and mental health.
“She didn’t really bash anyone,” said Robert Villarreal, vice president of Global Accounts at Tintri, a Silicon Valley digital storage company. “I think she is going to have to get into that pit that all politicians seem to fall into but I think she didn’t really get into it today.”
Clinton told stories about her granddaughter, spoke the need for comprehensive immigration reform and pledged to do what she can to help refugees from Syria at a late afternoon event in Belvedere, and took questions from the young people (under 18) at the fundraiser designed for kids and their parents.
Sanders focused on small, online donations
While Clinton’s quarter ending push for cash has been a success for the campaign - the former first lady has headlined 15 fundraisers in the last week - it offers her opponents a strong contrast.
Sanders, Clinton’s most formidable Democratic opponent, has only headlined seven fundraisers in his entire time as a candidate: Two in Los Angeles and one in Seattle, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, and New York.
And the candidate is not very involved in fundraising, according to campaign aides. While Sanders writes his own fundraising emails and “knows it matters,” he rarely checks in on fundraising and is more interested in other aspects of the campaign.
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Instead, his campaign is focused more on turning their sizable online following into donations. During the second quarter, Sanders raised about $15 million from 400,000 donations of around $33.51.
In emails to supporters over the last week, Sanders’ campaign has asked for small donations, hoping to reach 1 million contributions by the end of the day on Wednesday.
“In just three days, we’ll close the books on a critical FEC fundraising deadline,” Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, wrote in an email. “We have a chance to announce that our supporters have made 1 million online contributions faster than any presidential campaign in history.”
Clinton will likely not compete with those small donor figures, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try. In an email to supporters on Monday, Clinton’s campaign asked for $1 donations, a clear sign the campaign wants to expand its donor base before the close of the quarter.
The subject line: “Hillary needs your help today.”