Klobuchar's dark-horse campaign gets fundraising boost, but new tests await

Feb 12 (Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopeful

 Amy Klobuchar raised $2.5 million in four hours after her third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, her campaign said on Wednesday, a boost as she tries to beef up her operations for the upcoming contests in Nevada and South Carolina.

The moderate U.S. senator from Minnesota had languished in the middle of a large Democratic pack before a strong debate performance last Friday -- and rival Joe Biden's stumbles in Iowa and New Hampshire -- sparked new interest in her candidacy.

"Thanks to the team's strong showing, we raised more than $2.5 million since the polls closed," campaign manager Justin Buoen said on Twitter. "Bring on Nevada, South Carolina and beyond!"

Tuesday night's donations marked the fourth time Klobuchar's campaign brought in seven-digit surges of funding in one- or two-day rushes. Amid slowly increasing visibility she raised $11.4 million in the fourth quarter - more than twice her third quarter haul but less than half of what rival former South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg took in.

She will face new challenges in the next three weeks, which bring votes in Nevada, South Carolina and 14 more states on March 3's Super Tuesday. In addition to the logistical challenges, Nevada and South Carolina represent candidates' first major test with large numbers of Latino and African-American voters.

Pitching herself as a pragmatist, Klobuchar is targeting former Republicans unhappy with President Donald Trump, moderate Democrats uninterested in Biden or disappointed by his early performances, and progressives who feel that her practical approach makes her more electable than Warren or Sanders.

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Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar throughout her political career
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Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar throughout her political career
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, conducts a hearing on "pay-for-delay" deals between pharmaceutical companies and their generic drug competitors, which critics say keep cheaper forms of medicine off the market, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 23, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Hennepin County, Minn., Attorney Amy Klobuchar and President Clinton look on in the East Room of the White House Tuesday April 25, 2000, as Attorney General Janet Reno discussed reviving stalled hate-crimes legislation. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, left, and prosecutor Alan Harris talk with reporters, Thursday, April 3, 2003, in Minneapolis after former Minnesota Twins play Kirby Puckett was found not guilty in the alleged sexual assault of a woman in a restaurant bathroom last September. (AP Photo/bill alkofer)
UNITED STATES - JULY 11: Candidate Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - Nov. 08: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., looks at a chart from Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., a member of the agriculture panel and chair of the Senate Budget Committee, during a news conference on the farm program reauthorization bill. Senate progress on the $288 billion measure to renew farm programs ground to a halt Nov. 6 as Democrats and Republicans clashed over which amendments can be offered. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly)
Washington, UNITED STATES: US Senator Barbara Boxer (L), D-CA, and Senator-elect Amy Klobuchar (R), D-MN, walk past a group of photographers as they arrive for a bipartisan Senate Women Power Workshop at the office of Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, 14 November 2006 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
From left, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., react as they are acknowledged by President Barack Obama, Friday, June 1, 2012, at Honeywell in Golden Valley , Minn. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 13: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., second from right, poses for a photo opp with Democratic Senators-elect. Reid will take over as Majority Leader when the 110th Congress begins in January 2007. LEFT TO RIGHT: James Webb, D-Va., Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Reid, and Jon Tester, D-Mont. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 25: Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator from Minnesota, waves to the crowd after speaking during day one of the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 25, 2008. The DNC will be held from Aug. 25-28. (Photo by Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - June 12: At a news conference on oil dependence and global warming, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., checks out a Miles ZX405, an all-electric vehicle produced by Miles Electric Vehicles. The company was founded in 2004 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Miles Rubin. The ZX405 is capable of 25mph and has a range of 40-50 miles. Miles Electric Vehicles is owned by Miles Automotive Group, Ltd, and headquartered at the historic Santa Monica Airport in Santa Monica, CA. (photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
Accompanied by Senators Linsey Graham (L) and Amy Klobuchar (R), US Senator John McCain (C) answers questions during a press conference at the US embassy in Tokyo on April 10, 2009. The three senators are here to exchange views with Japanese officials. AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, prior to the start of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., left, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., right, and Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., second from right, leave the Senate chamber as the leadership negotiates a solution to the "fiscal cliff," the automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts that could kick in Jan. 1., at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 26: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) walks on stage to deliver remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 15: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) listens to testimony during the confirmation hearing of U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr January 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. Barr, who previously served as Attorney General under President George H. W. Bush, was confronted about his views on the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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The 59-year-old used her late-2019 surge in fundraising to blanket Iowa with staff and traveled to each of the state's 99 counties, an expensive and exhausting bet that paid off by raising her into the top tier of finishers, her one delegate and fifth place win enough to propel her campaign forward into New Hampshire.

Klobuchar faces steep challenges going into Nevada, where her campaign unveiled a more-than-$1 million ad plan Tuesday night, and South Carolina, where Biden enjoys a polling advantage with black voters.

Nationally just 3% of registered Democrats and independents supported her candidacy in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll.

A New Hampshire bounce may not help Klobuchar in South Carolina, where she has done little campaigning and is not well known, said Bakari Sellers, a political analyst in that state.

"You can't just parachute into black communities," said Sellers, who backed the now-ended campaign of Senator Kamala Harris and is not currently supporting another presidential candidate. "You can't expect support if you don't have the relationships."

Polls show Klobuchar holding little support among black voters.

"Pete Buttigieg is right around 4% in the African-American community - Amy Klobuchar is at 0," said Biden campaign co-chair U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond, which matches the politicians' recent results of Democratic-leaning voters in a national Quinnipiac poll released on Monday. "If you look at those numbers, you cannot come through diverse states without support in the African-American community." (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)

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