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SC's Mark Sanford has more cash than any of Trump's GOP challengers. It's still a pittance

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Republican presidential candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford raised $60,448 in his first three weeks campaigning, according to new federal election filings. File/Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Mark Sanford raised $60,000 in the first three weeks of his GOP White House run, but his war chest is also getting a boost from the $1.3 million he's transferring from his former congressional account.

Among President Donald Trump's trio of Republican challengers, Sanford holds a commanding cash lead because of his money move, according to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.  

On the whole, however, Sanford's raised haul is significantly less than the figures reported by both former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, both of whom have been in the race longer.

Weld raised $457,428 in the last three months and had $208,043 cash on hand. Walsh, who entered the GOP challenge field one week before Sanford, raised $129,188 and had $115,429 cash on hand.

All three are angling for the Republican presidential nomination despite facing long odds as they go up against the incumbent president of their own party.

The latest numbers further illustrate how challenging it will be for any Republican to beat Trump in the race for campaign dollars since their efforts are a fraction of the record-shattering $125 million raised in the last three months by Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Still, it gives Sanford a ray of hope that his message is getting heard by some Republicans, given that he's been in the presidential race for the least amount of time. Sanford announced his presidential campaign Sept. 2. Walsh confirmed his candidacy one week earlier on Aug. 25 and Weld was the first in the race back on April 15. 

"What it shows is that I'm not at all out of the hunt when it comes to receptivity," Sanford told The Post and Courier on Tuesday after learning how his competitors are faring in their fundraising efforts.

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Sanford also said that he's not running a typical presidential campaign and said he feels he has to "earn some level of electoral response" from voters in places like New Hampshire before they feel comfortable giving to his campaign. 

"At this point, it's about doing what I’ve always said I would do: Raise and elevate the issue of debt, deficit and government spending," he added. "That’s a different kind of animal, and the funding requirement that it entails is different from a traditional presidential campaign."

The filings come as Sanford prepared to take his fiscally focused campaign pitch on a 3,500 mile, cross-country excursion, which started Wednesday.

Sanford is renting an SUV for the journey that will start at Independence Hall in Philadelphia and end next Wednesday in Los Angeles. The trip includes 19 stops across 11 states in one week.

Sanford is calling it the "Kids, We're Bankrupt and We Didn't Even Know It" road trip.

On Tuesday, Sanford said he planned to send a fundraising email to his supporters, in which he would ask them to help him cover gas for the trip.

"That's a different cry from going out and saying, 'Will you do a fundraiser for me? Could you raise $100,000?' " Sanford said of his small-dollar ask.

Sanford has spent about $20,000 so far on his bid, according to FEC records.

He also confirmed he has not held any fundraisers yet.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.

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