WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump's re-election team has revealed that he sits atop a staggering campaign war chest, underlining the scale of the challenge facing his Democratic rivals at the start of an election year.
The sprawling Democratic field meanwhile lost another candidate when Mr Julian Castro, the only Hispanic in the 2020 field, announced he was ending his bid.
That leaves 14 candidates still in the running to take on Mr Trump - and competing for much-needed donations that keep a campaign's all-important ground game and advertising operations going.
In the fourth quarter of last year, even as Mr Trump was mired in a political scandal that resulted in his impeachment by the House of Representatives, he came out on top, raising US$46 million (S$62 million).
It was his best fund-raising period in a year that brought in US$143 million for his re-election efforts, the campaign announced on Thursday, easily outpacing the Democrats seeking to replace him.
And while Democrats are now effectively raising funds to compete against one another ahead of the general election in November, Mr Trump has the luxury of stockpiling funds until his opponent is selected.
Mr Trump's campaign now has an impressive US$102.7 million in cash on hand. "The President's war chest and grassroots army make his re-election campaign an unstoppable juggernaut," Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
The President faces an upcoming trial in the US Senate, where a Republican majority is expected to acquit him. Mr Trump himself argued that the impeachment drama, while embarrassing for his legacy, has led to a flood of donations. He retweeted a report that describes his campaign raising a whopping US$10 million in the two days following the impeachment vote.
Mr Trump's fund-raising haul is significantly higher than that of his challengers including Mr Bernie Sanders, the liberal senator who has so far raked in the most - US$34.5 million in last year's final three months - of any Democratic contender.
The President's war chest and grassroots army make his re-election campaign an unstoppable juggernaut.
TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN MANAGER BRAD PARSCALE
The Sanders team also said it topped a notable threshold of five million individual donations, a figure not reached by his 2016 campaign until March of that year.
Democratic rival Pete Buttigieg also posted strong numbers, raising US$24.7 million in the fourth quarter, bringing his 2019 total to more than US$76 million.
Mr Buttigieg has been a campaign surprise, and leads in polling in Iowa, the state that votes first in the nomination race, on Feb 3.
Front runner Joe Biden, the former vice-president, raked in US$22.7 million, his best showing of the year. Senator Elizabeth Warren has not revealed her haul but told supporters late last month that she had banked US$17 million, while setting a US$20 million goal. Senator Amy Klobuchar has yet to announce her quarterly haul.
One candidate showing unexpected resilience is Mr Andrew Yang, an Asian-American entrepreneur with no political experience.
He raised US$16.5 million in the fourth quarter, capping a dramatic uptrend from early last year when he was a virtual unknown.
But while Mr Biden, Mr Sanders, Ms Warren, Mr Buttigieg and Ms Klobuchar have qualified for the next Democratic debate on Jan 14, Mr Yang has not.
Neither have Senator Cory Booker, Representative Tulsi Gabbard or billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York who jumped into the race only in November.
Though he is skipping the first four states, Mr Bloomberg has already spent nearly US$140 million of his fortune on television advertisements, according to ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics, mostly in the Super Tuesday states that will vote in early March and other states that will follow.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES