Trump re-election campaign raises $46M in fourth quarter

WASHINGTON, Jan 2 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's re-election campaign raised $46 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, a major haul that was boosted by a surge of donations in the wake of the Democrats' impeachment bid, a senior campaign official said on Thursday.

The sum gives Trump a fundraising edge over a host of Democrats battling for their party's nomination, with the first contest to be held in Iowa in little more than a month. The Democratic nominee will face Trump in the November election.

The Trump campaign begins the 2020 re-election year with cash on hand of $102.7 million, the official told Reuters, an amount that will help his bid to compete in more states beyond those that carried him to his improbable victory in 2016.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the campaign felt that Trump's strong fundraising was a direct result of his decision to keep his campaign apparatus alive after taking office in January 2017.

He filed for re-election shortly after assuming office, allowing the campaign to keep functioning, a break from the tradition of winding it down after the election.

The $46 million for the fourth quarter was the amount raised only by the Trump re-election campaign. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence typically headline fundraising events that benefit both the campaign and the Republican National Committee.

The amount raised by the RNC for the fourth quarter of 2019 is expected to be released soon.

In the third quarter, Trump and the RNC had together raised $125 million.

Trump's re-election campaign raised a total of $143 million in all of 2019 and banked $83.4 million of it. It had begun the year with $19.3 million cash on hand.

The $102.7 million in cash on hand exceeds the $81.8 million the campaign of Democratic President Barack Obama had when he began his re-election year at the end of 2011, the official said.

Democratic presidential candidates have also begun releasing fundraising numbers for the fourth quarter, with Pete Buttigieg's campaign announcing on Wednesday that it had raised $24.7 million in the final three months of 2019.

The $46 million raised represented the best fundraising quarter for the Trump campaign in the 2020 cycle.

Trump, a polarizing president popular among Republicans but vilified by Democrats, saw a surge of donations during the effort to oust him through impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

Trump's strong quarter "is testament to his wide grassroots support and his stellar record of achievement on behalf of the American people," his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in a statement.

"Democrats and the media have been in a sham impeachment frenzy and the president’s campaign only got bigger and stronger with our best fundraising quarter this cycle," he added.

"The president’s war chest and grassroots army make his re-election campaign an unstoppable juggernaut." (Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)