Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Obama Raises $25 Million, Almost Matching Clinton

By Kristin Jensen and Jay Newton-Small for Bloomberg:

April 4 (Bloomberg) - Illinois Senator Barack Obama raised at least $25 million in the first quarter of his presidential campaign, just below the total of Democratic rival and top fundraiser Hillary Clinton.

Clinton, a New York senator, reported on April 1 that she raised $26 million and added another $10 million from her Senate campaign account. Clinton had previously proven herself one of the best fundraisers in the country, bringing in $51 million for her 2006 re-election campaign that had no real competition.

Obama's announcement today helps fortify his position in the top tier of candidates behind Clinton, who leads in public opinion polls. The third-place contender, former vice presidential nominee John Edwards, raised $14 million in the period.

``The amount of money puts Obama on the Hillary level,'' said Stephen Wayne, a government professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

The reports offer the first glimpse of the so-called ``money primary'' in the race for a presidential nomination. While the candidates who raise the most don't always win, a show of strength in fundraising can offer a needed boost.

Obama's campaign emphasized the number of donors as evidence of widespread support. The political newcomer, who won his first race for federal office in 2004, received contributions from more than 100,000 people, his campaign said. Clinton, 59, reported receiving donations from 50,000 people.

`Overwhelming Response'

``The overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country,'' said Penny Pritzker, Obama's finance chair, in an e- mailed statement today.

Obama, 45, raised about $6.9 million on the Internet from more than 50,000 donors, his campaign said. That compares with $4.2 million for Clinton.

Obama focused more on small-donor fundraisers. In Oklahoma last month, Obama took time out between two high-dollar events to speak to 1,100 people at a farmer's market who paid just $25 a head. The day before, Clinton addressed a group including business executives and movie stars who paid as much as $4,600 to see her in Manhattan's Sheraton New York ballroom.

``We are thrilled with our historic fundraising success and congratulate Senator Obama and the entire Democratic field on their fundraising,'' said Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton's campaign manager, in a statement released by the campaign. The totals demonstrate ``the overwhelming desire for change in our country,'' she said.

$77 Million

With Obama's donations, the Democratic candidates for president have tallied up at least $77 million in contributions so far this year. That compares with about $52 million for the Republicans, who are struggling with the sliding approval rating of their party's president, George W. Bush.

Obama also reported that his total included at least $23.5 million for the primary election. This is the first modern campaign in which all the major Democratic candidates are raising money for both the primary and the general election instead of relying on public financing.

A candidate can only use funds raised for the general campaign if he or she wins the party nomination, and Clinton hasn't disclosed how much of her $26 million is intended for the general election. Edwards said such contributions made up only $1 million of his $14 million total.

No Worries

Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said in an interview yesterday that the campaign would probably know the breakdown of primary and general funds this week. He said the ``vast majority'' of Clinton's $26 million came from donations for the primary campaign.

``Nobody should go to bed at night worried that Hillary will not have the resources that she needs to run an effective primary campaign,'' McAuliffe said.

Obama was the last major candidate to give an estimate for the first-quarter figures. All the candidates must file reports to the Federal Election Commission by April 15 with details on their contributions and spending.

On the Republican side, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney led the pack by raising $21 million. One-time frontrunner John McCain, an Arizona senator, raised just $12.5 million, trailing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who brought in $15 million in the period.
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