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The Hill’s Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in

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Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail:

LEADING THE DAY:

The 2020 election cycle just keeps getting more expensive…

Former Vice President Joe Biden set the record on Friday for the most money spent on television and advertising by a presidential candidate — a staggering $582 million, per the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics — surpassing the spending of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spent heavily during his short-lived bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. 

Biden’s spending also easily exceeds that of President Trump, whose reelection campaign has spent about $342 million on advertising over the past two years. 

The Trump campaign announced Friday it had its best online fundraising day ever on the day of the debate, combining with the Republican National Committee to bring in $26 million, which will be used in part to go up on the airwaves in Minnesota, where a Republican nominee for president has not won since 1972.

The heavy spending isn’t limited to the presidential contest, though Democrats and Republicans running in the most competitive Senate races of the year spent like crazy in the first part of October in preparation for the critical three-week sprint to Election Day.

In the 15 closest-watched Senate contests of the cycle, candidates from both major parties dropped a combined $207.6 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings covering the pre-election fundraising period from Oct. 1-14. By comparison, they only brought in a little more than than half of that, a combined $134 million. 

The biggest fundraiser over the two-week period was Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for his seat. Harrison’s campaign pulled in $22.1 million in the first half of October, about three times as much as the nearly $7.4 million raised by the second highest Democratic fundraiser for the period Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

But Harrison spent all of what he raised and then some, dropping nearly $26.6 million in a mere two weeks. Since the beginning of the year, he has raised nearly $100 million for his campaign. Now, he’s left with only about $3.5 million in the bank. 

In fact, nearly every Senate candidate across the 15 races spent more than they raised in early October. Sen. Cory Gardner (D-Colo.), who’s facing increasingly grim reelection prospects, dropped more than $4 million despite raising less than $1.5 million; Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) raised only $1.3 million and spent upwards of $5.5 million; and Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) spent $5.7 million after raising only $1.8 million.

Of course, such deficits aren’t much of a surprise this close to an election. Candidates are in the final stretch of their campaigns and tens of millions of Americans are already voting, so they’re running up against time constraints.

READ MORE:

Biden breaks all-time television spending record, by The Hill’s Reid Wilson

Trump squeezed by cash crunch in final sprint to the election, by Julia, Jonathan and Max

Jaime Harrison raises $22 million in two weeks for South Carolina Senate bid, by Max

OIL SPILL:

Biden is doing cleanup today and Republicans are on the attack after Biden said at Thursday’s presidential debate that he would “transition” away from oil.

Biden quickly sought to clarify his remarks, saying he would eliminate subsidies for big oil companies, not oil manufacturers.

But Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, in a call with reporters to tout their best online fundraising day ever, said the remarks would “put the nail in the coffin” for Biden in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, and possibly Ohio and Minnesota. 

Biden and Trump are also locked in a tight race in Texas, a traditionally red state where the comments could prove particularly damaging. 

The Trump campaign also released a new advertisement in Pennsylvania featuring Biden’s remarks on oil. 

Rebecca Beitsch and Morgan Chalfant have the story.

THE RATINGS ARE IN 

More than 55 million people tuned in to watch the final debate between Trump and Biden on Thursday evening, marking a decline from the first debate earlier this month when 73 million people tuned in. 

The debate also marked in a decline in viewership from the final presidential debate of the 2016 cycle when 73.2 viewers watched the forum with Trump and Hillary Clinton. 

The Hill’s media reporter Joe Concha has more on how the U.S. television networks fared with viewers during the 90-minute forum. 

Tags 2020 election Bill Stepien Campaign Report Cory Gardner Donald Trump doug jones Federal Election Commission Fossil fuel Fundraising Gary Peters Hillary Clinton Jaime Harrison Joe Biden John Cornyn Lindsey Graham Michael Bloomberg Presidential Debate

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