Windfall at Bernie’s: Sanders raises $1.5 million in 24 hours

Updated 7:23 PM EDT, Fri May 1, 2015
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(CNN) —  

Bernie Sanders’ nascent presidential campaign announced Friday that it raised more than $1.5 million in its first 24 hours, a number that far outpaces what Republican presidential hopefuls posted in their first day.

Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, kicked off his dark horse campaign for the Democratic nomination on Thursday with an email to supporters and a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol. Since then, more than 100,000 people signed up for the campaign and 35,000 people donated money, according to a campaign press release.

The average donation was $43.54.

“This is a remarkable start for Bernie’s campaign,” said Tad Devine, the campaign’s senior adviser. “People across America are yearning for authentic leadership that tells them the truth about what is holding back our nation. Bernie Sanders understands the problems we face.”

RELATED: Can Sanders fill the Warren void?

Sanders’$2 24-hour fundraising haul puts him ahead of what every currently declared Republican presidential hopeful posted in their first day.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign announced that it had raised $800,000 a day in. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign raised $1 million in the first 24-hours of its existence. And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign raised $1.25 million in its first day.

The only other Democrat in the race – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – did not announce what her campaign raised in its first 24 hours and declined to do so on Friday.

Sanders is an outspoken critic of the proliferation of big money in politics. He regularly rails against the Koch Brothers, the Republican uber-donors, and has said that his campaign would be devoid of “billionaires.”

At the bottom of his website, underneath the required phrase “Paid For By Bernie 2016,” his website proclaims, “Not The Billionaires.”

RELATED: Sanders doesn’t want billionaires’ backing

“I don’t believe that the men and women who defended American democracy fought to create a situation where billionaires own the political process,” Sanders said at his announcement press conference. “That’s a huge issue.”

In the lead-up to his presidential campaign, Sanders and his aides openly worried about whether he would be able to raise the money needed to mount a serious challenge to what will certainly be a well-funded Clinton campaign.

“To run a credible campaign in this day and age, you do need a whole lot of money,” Sanders said. “Whether the magic number is $200 million, or it is $150 million, it is a lot of money, but even with that, you would be enormously outspent by the Koch Brother candidates and the other candidates who will likely spend, in the final analysis, over $1 billion, if not two.”