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Story highlights

Sanders won the endorsements of the Communication Workers of America and Democracy for America

The endorsements come just a few days before the third Democratic debate

Washington CNN —  

Bernie Sanders won a pair of strong endorsements Thursday that could help bring volunteers and money to his campaign as he heads into the homestretch in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The Communication Workers of America, with its 700,000 members, threw its support behind Sanders during an event in Washington Thursday morning. A short while later Democracy for America, the liberal group born from the ashes of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 bid, signed on with Sanders.

“What I know about the CWA is that your endorsement is not a just paper endorsement, it’s not just a press release endorsement,” Sanders said Thursday at the union’s offices in Washington. “We’re going to have thousands of people on the ground, knocking on doors, making phone calls and helping us as we do what needs to be done in this country and that is create a political revolution.

The endorsements come just a few days before the third Democratic debate, and a day after the Sanders campaign cleared more than 2 million individual donations – a presidential campaign record that also underscores a fundamental challenge he faces: competing with the Hillary Clinton fundraising machine.

“We shouldn’t get confused in terms of who necessarily raises the most money as opposed to whether or not we’re raising enough money to win,” Sanders said Thursday. “So I suspect that because Secretary Clinton has a super PAC – they got millionaires and billionaires contributing to her – they will end up raising in total more money than we will. But the question is: Can we raise enough money to win in Iowa, to win in New Hampshire and to win around the rest of the country? And the answer is: Absolutely, we can!”

But the union force still pales in comparison to the numbers behind the endorsements Clinton has already racked up from the American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee and the Service Employees International Union among many others.

She has racked up 18 national union endorsements since announcing her campaign earlier this year.

The Democracy for America nod could help Sanders in the fundraising arena.

“Bernie Sanders is an unyielding populist progressive who decisively won Democracy for America members’ first presidential primary endorsement because of his lifelong commitment to taking on income inequality and the wealthy and powerful interests who are responsible for it,” DFA Executive Director Charles Chamberlain said in a statement.

Despite a long record of supporting unions and marching on picket lines, Sanders has struggled to lock down national union endorsements. With 700,000 members, the Communications Workers of America is the largest union to endorse the Vermont senator.

READ: Hillary Clinton maintains national lead in latest Monmouth poll

The endorsement is not surprising: Larry Cohen, the union’s former president, joined the campaign is June and is now the campaign’s top adviser on labor issues.

After not endorsing in the 2008 nomination fight, the union announced in August that it had set a process in motion to determine whether its members wanted to get involved in the Democratic primary and who they would want to endorse.

READ: Killer Mike interviews Sanders: 9 moments