CNN’s Jake Tapper wonders aloud if ‘it’s even right to call Biden a frontrunner’ at this point

Joe Biden’s latest fundraising efforts led CNN’s Jake Tapper to question whether he should even be referred to as the 2020 Democratic frontrunner.

The CNN host spoke with a panel on “The Lead” Thursday about the latest numbers being released by the former vice president and others vying for the party’s nomination, noting Biden’s $22.7 million raised in the last quarter trailed two of his Democratic rivals.

(Video: CNN)

Tapper noted that, despite Biden’s position topping many national polls, he is being “eclipsed” in fundraising by his opponents.

“We have Bernie Sanders with a colossal haul and 5 million individual donors, which is huge, and even Pete Buttigieg eclipsing him in fundraising. It matters, doesn’t it?” Tapper asked.

With more than 1.8 million donations in the last 3 months of 2019, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced  fundraising totaling $34.5 million, with figures bringing the total number of donations to the Sanders campaign to over 5 million while South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg finished 2019 with a $24.7 million haul in the final quarter.

“We shouldn’t sleep on Sanders again,” Tapper noted on Thursday. “He had a heart attack in October. Since then, not only has his health revived, since then 1.8 million people contributed to his campaign, 40,000 people alone donated on the last day of the fourth quarter. $8.53, the average donation. And he’s also pointed out that with 5 million donors, if every one of them gave him $27: that’s $1 billion.”

CNN panelists agreed that the figures from the Sanders campaign were formidable, though there was no mention of President Trump’s re-election campaign which raised $46 million in the fourth quarter, not including the yet-to-be-released totals from the Republican National Committee.

“I even wonder,” Tapper added, “is it even right to call Joe Biden the frontrunner if he’s being eclipsed in fundraising by Buttigieg and by Bernie Sanders? Bernie has this huge fundraising donor base, and also, the state-by-state polls show that it’s really fluid and the voters haven’t coalesced around a Democrat yet.”

NPR reporter Ayesha Rascoe noted that support for Biden has remained “fairly consistent” and he was still able to bring in millions of dollars to his campaign.

“I think what has happened with Biden is that he’s been able to remain fairly consistent in just having support. He has his base of support that hasn’t wavered a whole lot. And so I think that that has helped him. And also just the name recognition has helped him,” Rascoe said.

“We’ll see what happens. He was able to — even though he was eclipsed by Buttigieg and Sanders, he was able to bring in a considerable amount of money, which was good for him,” she added.

“This was kind of a do-or-die moment for him, in a sense. If he hadn’t been able to show that he could do the fundraising right now, that would have been a real problem for him,” Rascoe told Tapper. “I think the issue, I think the thing with Joe Biden is that he just has the name out there and he has to show what he can do in Iowa.”

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