Clinton's Campaign Has Most In Bank

By Matthew Mosk and Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, April 16, 2007

Sen. Barack Obama raised more money than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for their Democratic primary clash during the first three months of the year, but Clinton heads into spring with more in her campaign account than all Republican presidential candidates combined.

Obama, a first-term Illinois senator who launched his presidential bid with no national fundraising network, raised $24.8 million for the primary campaign during the first quarter, and Clinton (N.Y.) raised $19.1 million, the campaigns reported last night.

Perhaps the greatest advantage for Obama going forward is that fewer than half of his 104,000 contributors "maxed out" for the primary by hitting the $2,300 contribution limit, meaning he can turn to them again for support. Clinton, by contrast, received nearly three-quarters of her haul from those who wrote $2,300 checks and who cannot contribute to her again unless she is the party's nominee.

But Clinton established a solid overall financial advantage by transferring $10 million from her Senate campaign account and limiting her spending -- in part by carrying $1.6 million in debt, including money she owes to several key advisers. She also raised $7 million that can be spent only if she becomes the nominee.

"Obama won the money race, and it shows he's a real threat to Hillary," said Jenny Backus, a Democratic strategist who is not working for any candidate.

The numbers come from the first full reports that most candidates have presented to the Federal Election Commission; they were required by law to file before midnight. Those reports offer the first glimpse into how the campaigns have spent their money and from whom they have collected it.

Overall, the documents show a staggering increase in money flowing into presidential politics at this early stage -- more than $125 million to date, four times what had been given at this point eight years ago.

"It's a telltale sign of what lies ahead," said Michael Toner, former chairman of the election commission, who has predicted that the nominees will together chew through more than $1 billion before one reaches the White House.

Fundraising totals that might have dropped jaws four years ago, such as the $6.2 million take by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) for the quarter, now appear modest when matched against the tens of millions amassed by Clinton and Obama.

The numbers also continue to reflect a highly energized Democratic Party. For the first time in at least three decades, Democratic donors have given significantly more than Republicans to their presidential hopefuls. Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist, called the split between the parties a sea change. "Not only did we outraise them, but we outraised them substantially," he said.

Figures for the GOP, whose candidates posted Friday and Saturday, showed that former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney each came out of the first quarter with nearly $12 million on hand. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), once viewed as the GOP front-runner, had just over $5 million on hand -- about as much as Richardson's total.

The reports are valuable not just for their totals but also for details about the campaigns that can be revealing. For instance, Romney's report showed that his campaign paid $25,919 to Regency Productions in Virginia Beach for "travel," presumably to rent an aircraft. Regency is run by Jay Sekulow, a close ally of Pat Robertson's, and the arrangement could be a sign of support for Romney among Christian conservatives -- a key constituency for GOP primary hopefuls and one that Romney, a Mormon, has been courting.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company