Beto O’Rourke sets high-water mark for Dems with $6.1 million in 1st day of campaign

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FILE – In this Feb. 5, 2019, photo, former Democratic Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke laughs as he is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his presidential campaign, the most so far by any 2020 Democratic hopeful.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., last month raised $5.9 million in the first day following his announcement.

“Americans across this country came together to prove that it is possible to run a true grassroots campaign for president — a campaign by all of us, for all of us, that answers not to the PACs, corporations and special interests but to the people,” O’Rourke said in a statement released by his campaign Monday morning.

 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke visits Cargo Coffee on East Washington Avenue during a stop in Madison, Wis., March 17, 2019.
(Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)  Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke visits Cargo Coffee on East Washington Avenue during a stop in Madison, Wis., March 17, 2019.

O’Rourke’s first-day sum far outpaces other Democratic hopefuls seeking to unseat President Donald Trump.

California Sen. Kamala Harris raised $1.5 million during her first 24 hours as a candidate, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper each hit the $1 million mark roughly 48 hours after announcing.

Related: Democrat Beto O’Rourke announces 2020 White House bid

The contributions to O’Rourke also are a tangible example of the legitimacy of a presidential campaign that a year ago would have been considered impractical, if not impossible. The former congressman raised nearly $80 million last year attempting to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the most competitive Senate race run by a Democrat in Texas.

 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke pours a beer for a customer at Yock's Landing during his second day of campaigning for the 2020 nomination, March 15, 2019, in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)  Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke pours a beer for a customer at Yock’s Landing during his second day of campaigning for the 2020 nomination, March 15, 2019, in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

O’Rourke was mum on initial fundraising numbers during a three-day campaign swing that began last week. When pressed by reporters outside an event in the city of Washington, Iowa, he said he was choosing not to release the numbers, refusing to elaborate.

Related: Gillibrand in 2020 Democratic race as full-fledged candidate

“I could. Let me answer the question better: I choose not to,” said O’Rourke, when he was reminded nothing precluded him from doing so.

O’Rourke’s aggressive initial campaign continues on Monday, starting with a stop just north of Detroit, followed by an afternoon stop in Cleveland. He’s then scheduled to travel to Pennsylvania, continuing on to New Hampshire later in the week.

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