By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 2, 2007
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) raised $26 million in the first quarter of the year, almost three times as much as any politician has previously raised at this point in a presidential election, officials with her campaign announced yesterday.
Democrat John Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, also topped the previous record, reporting at least $14 million for the quarter that ended Saturday.
The sums, though record-setting, represent only a portion of the tens of millions the candidates are expected to raise in what should be the most expensive presidential campaign in history. And the reports, required by federal law, highlighted the intensity of the so-called money primary.
One candidate who did not announce his fundraising yesterday was Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who has held a crush of fundraisers and shows up in second place in many Democratic polls. Nor did any of the Republicans who have entered the race.
Advisers to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) said they expect to report $6 million; Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) reported raising $4 million; and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) predicted reporting about $3 million.
Clinton officials called their figure "staggering."
"We dramatically exceeded our goals and expectations," said Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton's campaign manager, who on Saturday issued a "personalized," last-minute fundraising pitch to donors, arguing that the first-quarter totals "will set the tone of the race for months to come."
The previous fundraising record for the period was $8.9 million, collected by then-Vice President Al Gore in the first quarter of 1999.
Clinton campaign officials said she plans to report a total of $36 million in receipts, including about $10 million transferred from her 2006 Senate race.
Clinton's rivals said the figure, while eye-popping, is not enough to shut other contenders out of the race, as the Clinton campaign hoped to do. Clinton spent more than $37 million to win reelection to the Senate last year.
Clinton officials declined to provide figures on how much money remains available or how much they spent in the first three months of the year. Those figures must be reported with the fundraising total to the Federal Election Commission by April 15.
The officials also did not specify how much of the $26 million raised is designated for her primary campaign; she is raising money for both the general and primary races and cannot spend money earmarked for the general election on the primary.
Some $10 million appears to have been raised in the final 1 1/2 weeks of the quarter, when Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, held huge galas around the country. Her advisers said she raised $600,000 in the final 36 hours. She also raised $4.2 million on the Internet during the quarter. Eighty percent of her donations came in amounts of $100 or less.
Edwards doubled his first-quarter primary tally from 2003, when he led all challengers. He is reporting that about $1 million of the $14 million to $15 million he raised this time is designated for the general election. His advisers said he raised about $3.3 million in online donations. They declined, however, to specify how much he drew in the 1 1/2 weeks since disclosing that his wife, Elizabeth, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.
Asked whether Edwards is daunted by Clinton's ability to beat his first-quarter total by more than $10 million, Jonathan Prince, his deputy campaign manager, said, "Not at all."
"History has clearly indicated that the most money is not the key to the nomination," Prince said.
Other Democratic candidates made the same case.
Biden's campaign reported total receipts close to $4 million for the quarter, including less than $2 million transferred from his Senate campaign account -- "not nearly as much as Hillary Clinton," Biden said on "Fox News Sunday." But, he added, his goal is to raise $20 million to $25 million by the end of the year, enough to be competitive in the primaries.
"If this gets down to just straight money, then there's only going to be one, maybe two candidates in the race. But I don't believe that," Biden said. "I believe as long as Iraq and foreign policy and these big issues are in play, that my having enough money to compete in Iowa will allow me to win the nomination. I don't think it's going to be won by money."
Richardson said that of the $6 million he raised, $5 million remains in the bank, demonstrating that his campaign has so far been relatively thrifty. At the same time, his advisers said they expect him to accelerate fundraising in the next quarter, after the New Mexico legislative session ends. "Now he's really going to be able to pick up the pace," said Pahl Shipley, Richardson's communications director.
Aides to Dodd said that, in addition to raising $4 million, he transferred nearly $5 million from his Senate campaign account and has $7.5 million on hand.
As for Obama, for whom fundraising predictions have risen to $20 million or more, his spokesman, Bill Burton, said: "We're humbled by the tremendous grass-roots support we've received from individuals all over the country. But the numbers that the American people truly care about are the number of troops we still have in Iraq, the number of Americans who still have no health care and, importantly, the number of people who truly believe we can transform our nation by changing our politics."
Political researcher Zachary A. Goldfarb contributed to this report.