U.S. candidate Biden was vastly outspent by Sanders in February

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[March 23, 2020]  By Jason Lange and Grant Smith

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden's campaign in February spent less than one-third the amount spent by rival Democrat Bernie Sanders, according to disclosures by the campaigns filed on Friday.

Despite being outspent, Biden's campaign finished the month surging at the polls with a victory in the February 29 nomination contest in South Carolina.

Since early March, the former vice president has led the Democratic contest to be the nominee to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November presidential election.

In February, Biden's campaign spend $13.1 million, compared to $45.8 million spent by Sanders. His campaign manager said this week he was reassessing his bid.

The presidential race has changed dramatically since February, however, as a deadly coronavirus outbreak has led campaigns to suspend rallies and fundraisers.

The outbreak is also causing swaths of the U.S. economy to shut down as state and local officials order businesses closed and, increasingly, people to stay in their homes.

The outbreak could lead campaigns to rely more on television and digital advertising.

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Democratic U.S. presidential candidates former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders stand together at the start of 11th Democratic candidates debate of the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, held in CNN's Washington studios without an audience because of the global coronavirus pandemic, in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Biden spent only around $5 million on ads in February, compared to more than $26 million spent by Sanders.

With Sanders' future in question, a potential match-up of Biden versus Trump has come into view. At present, the Republican appears to have a substantial funding advantage.

Biden finished the month with $12.1 million in the bank. Trump's campaign, which has been burning through the money it raises much more slowly than Biden's campaign, ended the month $94.4 million in cash.

(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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