CENTER LINE, Mich. (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke boasted Monday that the more than $6 million he raised online within a day of announcing his White House bid, the most reported by any 2020 candidate, was helping to create "the largest grassroots campaign this country has ever seen."
The "record-breaking" $6.1 million collected last week came "without a dime" from political action committees, corporations or special interests, O'Rourke spokesman Chris Evans tweeted. The figure is just above what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders reported for his first day as a 2020 candidate.
O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman, jumped into the presidential race on Thursday after months of speculation, shaking up the already packed Democratic field and pledging to win over voters from across the political spectrum.
"Thank you to everyone who's helping to build the largest grassroots campaign this country has ever seen, funded completely by people - not PACs, not lobbyists, not corporations and not special interests," O'Rourke told reporters in Center Line, a Detroit suburb. "It's one of the best ways to bring the country together to make sure that we are listening to one another and not that entrenchment of wealth and power and privilege that defines so much of our politics from before."
O'Rourke raised an eye-popping $80 million in grassroots donations last year in his failed U.S. Senate race in Texas against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz, all while largely avoiding money from PACs. His early fundraising numbers in the presidential contest will be seen as an initial signal of whether his popularity during the Senate campaign will carry over to his White House bid.
He said Monday he didn't know the average donation to his presidential campaign, but added without providing evidence, "I just know that people contributed from every state in the union."
The new figures set O'Rourke and Sanders apart from the rest of the Democratic field in launch day fundraising. California Sen. Kamala Harris reported raising $1.5 million in the 24 hours after she launched her campaign in January. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar reported raising $1 million in the 48 hours after launching her campaign in February.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said three days after starting his presidential campaign this month that he had raised more than $1 million, a notable haul for a governor less widely known than many of his competitors in a field dominated by senators. And former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he reached $1 million within 48 hours of announcing his White House bid at the beginning of this month.
Sanders has set the pace for 2020 grassroots donations. Aided by the $6 million he pulled in on his first day as a candidate, he took in more than $10 million in the first week, overwhelmingly from small donors.
O'Rourke, asked last week if he thought he would top Sanders, said only, "We'll see."
Hazell contributed from Washington.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Monday embraced a congressional proposal to study a framework for reparations to African-Americans hurt by the legacy of slavery as the best way to begin a "national, full-blown conversation" on the issue.
Warren first voiced support for reparations last month, becoming one of three 2020 Democratic candidates to do so. But her comments about a study on reparations, made during a CNN town hall broadcast from Mississippi, mark a keener focus from the Massachusetts senator on her preferred route to tackle the thorny question of how best to deal with systemic racial inequality.
The Democratic field's ongoing debate over reparations comes as African-American voters are poised to exert significant influence over the selection of the party's nominee to take on President Donald Trump.
Warren offered in-depth answers to several other questions that touched on issues important to African-American communities, winning cheers for a call for Mississippi to replace its state flag - the only one in the nation that depicts a Confederate image. Warren, 69, has made racial justice a centerpiece of her case for the Democratic nomination, even as she doubles down on her long-running emphasis on economic inequity.
Warren also came out in favor of eliminating of the electoral college, the most pointed instance of her opposition to the polarizing mechanism the nation uses to elect its presidents.
She has been critical of the electoral college in the past, saying last year that Trump's 2016 victory - despite Democrat Hillary Clinton's winning 3 million more total votes - is "not exactly the sign of a healthy democracy." But Warren's comments on Monday were her most straightforward endorsement of an end to the electoral college system.
"I think everybody ought to have to come and ask for your vote," Warren said.
She also faced a tough question about her past claims to Native American identity, a political liability for her presidential run as she attempts to move past a DNA analysis she released last year that showed "significant evidence" of a distant tribal ancestor.
Warren told the audience that, growing up in Oklahoma, "I learned about my family from my family," adding, "That's just kind of who I am, and I do the best I can with it." She added that, based on her experiences traveling to nearly a dozen states so far in her campaign, Americans are more inclined to ask her about issues that affect their everyday lives.