Obama takes lead in money primary

The Baltimore Sun

Opening a significant lead in the money primary, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama raised $32.5 million in the second quarter of 2007, eclipsing New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and other rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton's aides announced earlier that she had raised $27 million in the second quarter of 2007. Her total would have set a record among Democratic presidential candidates for the same period in past campaigns.

The $32.5 million that Obama amassed is more than the $30.8 million raised by all other Democratic presidential candidates for the same period four years ago and nearly matches the $35 million that President Bush raised in the second quarter of 2003.

In a statement issued yesterday, Obama said 154,000 donors had given to his campaign in the second quarter.

"Together, we have built the largest grass-roots campaign in history for this stage of a presidential race," Obama said, adding that his backers seek "health care for all, energy independence and an end to this war in Iraq."

Top Democratic presidential candidates almost surely out-raised their Republican counterparts. GOP candidates are expected to release their summaries this week.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, generally viewed as the third-leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, announced that he had raised $9 million in the second quarter.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, another Democratic contender, raised $7.2 million. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut raised $3.25 million and had $6.5 million in the bank.

In an indication of the upward spiral in presidential fundraising, Edwards' $9 million is more than any individual Democratic candidate raised in the same period four years ago, although his total dipped from the $14 million he had amassed in the first three months of 2007.

Obama's second-quarter showing follows the $25 million he raised in the first 90 days of the year. It underscores that even though he trails Clinton in national polls, he quickly has created a national base in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama has raised $55.7 million this year, compared with Clinton's $53 million; her $26 million was slightly more than what he raised in the first quarter. Obama has received money from 258,000 donors, far more than any other candidate. Edwards, for one, has 100,000 donors, his campaign said. The winner of the money primary won't necessarily win the electoral primary. Many top fundraisers have faltered once voting begins.

"Neither top-tier candidate will be able to overwhelm through advertising," said Los Angeles consultant Noah Mamet, a Clinton backer. "They both will have well over $100 million, so now [it] comes down to the candidates themselves, as it should be."

Experts predict that Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will raise and spend $1 billion by November 2008, more than ever before. The money is coming in bundles large and small.

At the low end, campaigns are employing Internet fundraising techniques and attracting donations of $100 or less. At the high end, federal election law permits individual donors to contribute $2,300 to a candidate per election, compared with $1,000 in past years.

As the second quarter closed, candidates rushed to shore up their fundraising numbers, holding multiple fundraisers each day and sending numerous e-mails exhorting people to send money.

Even Bush sent out a fundraising appeal on behalf of the Republican National Committee, built around his 61st birthday.

Dan Morain writes for the Los Angeles Times.

CANDIDATE FUNDRAISING

Some Democratic candidates for president have announced their fundraising totals for the second quarter of 2007. Republican announcements are expected this week; the deadline to list fundraising totals and donors is July 15.

Barack Obama: $32.5 million

Hillary Rodham Clinton: $27 million

John Edwards: $9 million

Bill Richardson: $7.2 million

Christopher J. Dodd: $3.25 million

[ Los Angeles Times]

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