Sen. Elizabeth Warren has built up a big staff for her presidential campaign, and she is already spending a lot of money on her bid for the White House. WGBH News contributor David Bernstein wrote about the state of Warren's campaign so far. Bernstein spoke with WGBH Radio’s Judie Yuill about Warren’s spending. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Judie Yuill: So staffing has been a priority for Warren, tell us about that.
David Bernstein: Yeah, she really came out of the gate very quickly. She had $10 million or so that she transferred over from her U.S. Senate account. She'd been building up a sort of war chest there over the years. She transferred it over so she had the money to spend and she decided to immediately start staffing up both for the national jobs that she needed, but also in early voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire, where they have the caucus and primary early on.
Yuill: I understand that women make up a sizable portion of Warren's staff?
Bernstein: That's right. Elizabeth Warren has 160 people on staff so far, and almost two-thirds of them are women, including a lot of the sort of lower-level field organizers out in the early voting states, but also half of the top 20 earners on the staff are women.
Yuill: Now what do Warren's campaign finances look like?
Bernstein: She is doing okay. She was going very slowly in terms of fundraising compared to what they expected. It picked up a little bit towards the end of the quarter, so she ended up taking in about $6 million. Add that to the $10 million that she brought over from the Senate campaign account, and that's a pretty good amount of money. She's spent, however, over $5 million. So the pace of spending is equal to the pace of fundraising, which doesn't allow her to save up the money so far that she's going to need when she starts to need to do things like television advertising that are very expensive.
Yuill: So how is her fundraising effort going?
Bernstein: It's interesting. I know a number of people who help with her fundraising, and they've been a little frustrated in the pace of the big money giving, partly because Elizabeth Warren has cut herself off from doing the kinds of events and phone calls and basically pandering to the big donors that other candidates do. So they've been having a hard time as a result. And at the same time, the small dollar donations that she's always thrived on have been a little slow in coming, and partly they think that's because there are so many other candidates of interest right now and those small donor types assume that Elizabeth Warren is OK. And so they're looking at the other candidates, trying to help them out right now. But then as time went on, those [donors and donations] started to come back to Elizabeth Warren as well, so [fundraising has] picked up now.
Warren: Now how does Warren's campaign compare to other candidates at this point?
Bernstein: She's about in the middle of the pack or a little better in terms of money taken in. She is similar to a number of others in terms of cash on hand. She's not up there with Bernie Sanders or a couple of others, but she's doing OK. She's spent more than most. In fact, she spent more than any of the other candidates.
Yuill: Do you think that the strategy that Sen. Warren is following thus far is a sound one?
Bernstein: Well, we'll see how it plays out in the long run. I think that she is smart to build up this large army of people, especially out in the early voting states. She's making a lot of good contacts with voters, building up goodwill, making good impressions with the media and so forth, and doing a lot of things with the national campaign office as well, that's in Boston. These are things that are going to pay off in the long run. The assumption that they have is that right now everyone in the party sort of knows and likes Elizabeth Warren, but they're testing out all the different flavors right now because there are so many other candidates for them to get to know. They believe that Elizabeth Warren's policies, her enthusiasm, the steadiness in a way, her history, will eventually play out. I think that's the way she has to go. We'll see whether that ultimately is what the voters want.
Yuill: That is WGBH News contributor David Bernstein. He has a piece up on our website about the state of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign.