Clinton Tops Obama in Money Chase
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton announced this morning that she raised $27 million over the past three months, a figure that continues to keep her well out in front of both Democrats and Republicans in terms of total dollars raised.
Clinton for the first time appeared to find wider success raising money from grassroots supporters - her campaign said it received checks from more than 100,000 new donors, more than double the number of donors who gave to her during the first three months of her campaign.
"This is the moment when you showed that America is ready for change and that you are ready to make history," said Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton's campaign manager, in an e-mail to supporters this morning. "This is the moment when your dedication defied the skeptics."
A chunk of her overall take - about $5 million - is money that will have to be set aside for the general election, should she become the nominee.
Overall, Sen. Barack Obama has raised slightly more than Clinton for the primary, and the two look to be fairly evenly matched financially as they head into the final stretch before the first electoral contests in January. Obama reported raising $20 million during the past three months, $19 million of which was available for use during the
Democratic presidential candidates continued to further distancing them from their Republican counterparts. Between them, the Democrats have raised an estimated $235 million during the first nine months of the year. By the time Republicans reveal their latest numbers this week, they could be more than $90 million behind, according to preliminary reports from GOP campaign aides.
Obama's continued show of strength as a fundraiser came even as he has exhibited no significant gains in national opinion polls. He, like Clinton, appeared capable of drawing significant funds from small-dollar donors, many of whom sent contributions through the Internet. His campaign said he hadreceived money from 352,000 people.
"Many in Washington have spent the last weeks declaring the outcome of this race to be preordained and the primary process a mere formality," said David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager. "Yet, in this quarter alone, 93,000 more Americans joined our campaign, because they desire real change and believe Barack Obama is the one candidate who can deliver it."
Obama's totals and predictions from Clinton aides show that the race for the Democratic nomination remains a distinctly two-tiered contest. Senior aides to former senator John Edwards (N.C.) confirmed yesterday that his campaign raised roughly $7 million during the three-month period that ended Sept. 30. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's campaign said he raised $5.2 million, while sources with the campaign of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) said he raised less than $2 million. Aides to Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) said he had brought in about $1.5 million.
On the Republican aide, aides to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said he raised about $10 million over the past three months. Former senator Fred Thompson (Tenn.) is expected to report bringing in more than $8 million for the quarter, on top of the $3 million he had raised previously. Former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani had not yet released his total.
While Obama's three-month total was smaller than the sums he posted for each of the previous two quarters, it was a sizeable haul. He has now raised nearly four times as much as Democrat Howard Dean had at this point in 2003, and more than five times as much as Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the eventual nominee.
James Bopp, a Republican National Committeeman from Indiana who is fundraising for Romney, said that the job of raising money is bound to get more difficult as the year wears on.
"You start with the most likely donors - the low-hanging fruit," Bopp said. "The higher up the tree you go, the harder it is to reach it. It's just more difficult to find people willing to contribute."
For Romney, the shrinking donor pool has meant dipping deeper into his personal fortune to supplement contributions.
His campaign has not yet said how much of his own money he put into his campaign over the past three months. He had already put $9 million into his bid, and Romney aides said they expect that number to now be closer to $15 million.
Others have turned to the presidential public financing system, which can provide an infusion of cash in advance of the first primaries but also subjects candidate to limits on how they spend those funds. The limits severely restrict spending in crucial early contests, and they cap overall spending prior to the party conventions at the end of the summer to about $50 million.
Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) joined the ranks of those contemplating public financing, saying yesterday that he has reported $1.6 million in contributions to the Federal Election Commission in a request to qualify for federal matching funds. Edwards was the first to formally seek matching funds, and his senior adviser, Joe Trippi, said yesterday that he expects the campaign to receive $10 million in public financing. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has qualified for matching funds, but he has not yet decided whether he will take the money.
Critics have skewered Edwards's decision as one made out of desperation. But during a conference call yesterday, Trippi framed the decision to take matching money as one grounded in principle and political strategy, not financial need. "People are sick and tired of the corroded, busted, rigged system in Washington," he said.
Clinton spokesman Phil Singer declined to take a direct shot at Edwards but said: "The Edwards campaign says it opted into the public financing system out of principle. Others might come to a different conclusion."
Michael J. Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute, said there is still plenty of money to be had.
A study of donations made during the first six months of 2007 found that more than 80 percent of people who donated to candidates in the 2008 race did not give money in 2004.
"More than 8 out of 10 donors who gave in the last presidential election have not weighed in yet," Malbin said. "There's a lot of untapped capacity out there."
Washington Post editors
October 2, 2007; 12:00 PM ET
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