Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama raked in at least 32.5 million dollars in the last three months, throwing down a formidable fundraising challenge to party pace-setter Hillary Clinton.
Obama declared Sunday his stunning campaign cash windfall was ”just the beginning” of a movement to transform America, as he became the top Democratic fundraiser in a single quarter in the year before a presidential election.
His campaign cash blitz sent momentum through his campaign to become America’s first black president, the day before Clinton was due to roll out one of her most powerful political weapons — former president Bill Clinton.
Clinton’s campaign said last week that she would raise around 27 million dollars in the three-month accounting period, which ended Saturday, but admitted she would fail to surpass Obama’s amount.
The former first lady is topping polls of the Democratic race, and has put up strong performances in a clutch of campaign debates among rivals for her party’s presidential nomination.
This week, she is due to launch a campaign swing in the crucial early-voting state of Iowa with her husband.
Obama’s funds came from 154,000 individual donors in the last three months alone. More than a quarter of a million people have offered him cash so far this year. He has now raised a total of 55.7 million dollars in funding for next year’s primary and caucus nominating contests, his campaign said.
“We have built the largest grassroots campaign in history for this stage of a presidential race,” Obama said in a statement on Sunday.
“That’s the kind of movement that can change the special interest-driven politics in Washington and transform our country, and it’s just the beginning.”
Political consultants had been watching second quarter figures closely to see whether Obama, a charismatic first-term Illinois senator, could keep pace with Clinton --- in the end he surpassed her.
In the first quarter of 2007, Clinton raised 26 million dollars for her White House bid, a few hundred thousand dollars more than Obama.
Former senator John Edwards, struggling to stay with the two front-runners surpassed his target of nine million dollars for the second quarter, his campaign said Sunday. But Edwards did not match his 14 million dollar first quarter take.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, said last week he had pulled in seven million dollars as he tries to join Obama, Clinton and Edwards in the top-tier of an eight-candidate field.
Republican candidates were yet to announce final second quarter figures. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney topped party rivals with 20 million dollars in fundraising in the first three months of the year.
Multi-million dollar fundraising is a vital component of presidential races, bankrolling television advertising blizzards, armies of political consultants and cross-country campaign swings.
Along with opinion polls, the fundraising stakes also reflect which candidates have momentum in the race, more than six months before first votes are cast in primary and caucus nominating contests.
The Obama campaign said 31 million dollars of the second quarter money was eligible to be spent on the primary and caucuses nominating contests which will unfold early next year.
Individual donors are limited to contributions of 2,300 dollars, for each phase of the campaign, but candidates can raise cash for primaries and the general election simultaneously.
In most national polls of the Democratic race, Clinton has a double digit lead over Obama with Edwards in third. The field is more tightly bunched in early nominating states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Obama’s haul is only just behind the more than 34 million dollars piled up by Republican President George W. Bush in the equivalent quarter of 2003, for his 2004 reelection campaign.
In the corresponding period of the 2004 race, former Vermont governor Howard Dean raised the most among Democrats, at 7.6 million dollars, but his campaign later fizzled.
Last Mod: 02 Temmuz 2007, 11:43