Carson raises $20M for '16 bid in past 3 months

Small Donors a Cash Boon for Ben Carson


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Political newcomer Ben Carson raised more than $20 million in the past three months to fuel his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign said Wednesday, a haul of campaign cash that shatters records and sets a new bar for his GOP rivals.

As other campaigns scrambled to bring in final donations before the end of the fundraising period at midnight, Carson's senior team celebrated its massive haul at its suburban Washington campaign headquarters.

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Two dozen staffers shared a red, white and blue chocolate cake topped with frosted numbers "$31,000,000" — the total amount the retired neurosurgeon's campaign has raised since he launched his White House bid in May.

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Carson raises $20M for '16 bid in past 3 months
MT. AYR, IA - JANUARY 22 : Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is introduced during his 'Trust in God Townhall' campaign stop January 22, 2016 in Mt. Ayr, Iowa. Carson, who is seeking the nomination from the Republican Party is on the presidential campaign trail across Iowa ahead of the Iowa Caucus taking place February 1. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a Liberty University Convocation in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. As retired neurosurgeon Carson has risen in the polls, media reports have revisited his accounts of acts of violence as a child, a key part of the redemption story he discusses on the campaign trail. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 06: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to the media before speaking at a gala for the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida at PGA National Resort on November 6, 2015 in Palm Beach, Florida. Carson has come under media scrutiny for possibly exaggerating his background and other statements he has made recently. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 16: Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson (L) eats a piece of pizza while touring the Iowa State Fair on August 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage and touring the fairgrounds. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - OCTOBER 29: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a news conference before a campaign event at Colorado Christian University on October 29, 2015 in Lakewood, Colorado. Ben Carson was back on the campaign trail a day after the third republican debate held at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Scenes around the the Value Voters Summit on September 25, 2015 in Washington DC. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson takes the stage at the event. Dr Carson speaks to the media after the speach. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Attendees wait for Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, to arrive during a campaign stop at the birthplace of the Michigan Republican Party in Jackson, Michigan, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Carson, the third candidate in the Republican race to have never held elected office, saw his numbers drop following the debate last week. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, listens as he attends a service at Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. Carson will be speaking at the Iowa State Fair, which is expected to host 18 presidential candidates and runs until Aug. 23. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson participates in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, eats a slice of pizza as he tours the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. In a Sunday interview with Fox News, Carson doubled down on his assertion that a speech given by President Barack Obama intended to sell the American public on his nuclear deal with Iran contained 'coded innuendos employing standard anti-Semitic themes.' Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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"You know, the pundits all said that we would never be able to mount a national campaign for financial reasons, but here we are approaching 600,000 donations," Carson told The Associated Press while campaigning in New Hampshire. "The people have gotten involved, and that's something I think they probably never anticipated."

The day was a culmination of an extraordinary run for Carson, who tapped the wave of anti-establishment sentiment to raise $12 million in September alone, said campaign manager Barry Bennett.

Flush with cash, Bennett said the campaign initiated plans Wednesday to begin reserving television ad space across the South for primary contests scheduled for early March.

Carson raised at least $20.2 million for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, Bennett said, noting that receipts were still trickling in.

That's more money than what was raised by the GOP's entire White House field combined over the same period four years ago. Mitt Romney, the establishment favorite in 2012, raised $14.2 million during that time, while the most popular outsider, former pizza chain CEO Herman Cain, brought in $2.8 million.

Bennett estimated the campaign had at least $12 million in the bank as of Wednesday. Overall, the campaign received more than 600,000 donations since launching in May from a total of 353,000 individual donors.

The Carson campaign declined to detail how much money it spent to raise that cash. Those details will be included in its financial report to federal regulators, which is due in two weeks.

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But as of June, the Carson campaign was burning through donor money faster than almost anyone else's in the race. He'd spent more than half of the $10.6 million he collected between the beginning of the year and June 30.

In the three-month period beginning April 1, Carson's top five expenses all were fundraising-related — for direct mail, phone calls and online marketing, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

In a comment aimed at the GOP establishment, Bennett said, "Sooner or later, they'll have to realize there's a new reality or they'll pay the price," and added, "The outsiders are not going away."

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Ramer reported from Exeter, New Hampshire. Associated Press writer Julie Bykowicz in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow Steve Peoples and Holly Ramer on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/sppeoples and http://twitter.com/hramer

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