Fundraising Gap Likely to Persist For Campaigns

By Michael D. Shear and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 23, 2007

Twelve weeks ago, after raising less money than two other Republican candidates in the first three months of 2007, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the early favorite for his party's presidential nomination, declared that it was his fault, said he hoped "to get better" at it and reorganized his finance team.

This week he said it hasn't worked out too well, acknowledging that raising money is "very tough" and allowing that "we weren't going to win this campaign on money anyway."

On the Democratic side, former senator John Edwards of North Carolina had vowed that he, too, would improve on a weak first-quarter showing. But this week, Joe Trippi, a senior aide, e-mailed supporters with news that the campaign is only two-thirds of the way to its relatively modest fundraising goal.

Edwards and McCain are two prominent victims of the widening money gap between the front-runners and the rest of the field, a separation that will be apparent when the campaigns file their fundraising reports on the second quarter, which ends next Saturday.

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) are each expected to hit the $25 million mark -- at least -- for money raised since April 1, a feat that reflects their continuing ability to reach deep into their Democratic constituency. Among the Republicans, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani are said to be repeating their impressive first-quarter takes.

Former senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who is not yet officially a GOP candidate, seems on track to reach his goal of raising about $5 million in just one month, according to advisers. And New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is barely registering in most polls, has told other Democrats that he expects to raise more money than Edwards this quarter.

But every candidate in the race -- 11 Republicans (including Thompson) and eight Democrats -- will spend the next week in a fundraising sprint.

After raising $13 million in the first quarter, McCain scheduled 28 fundraising events for June and has nine more to go, his spokesman said. Edwards, who took in $14 million last quarter, on Thursday embarked on his latest new-media fundraising pitch, a text-message initiative that directed supporters to a voice mail asking for financial support.

"I'm not asking you to help us outraise everyone else," the voice message says, according to a script distributed by the campaign. "I'm only asking you for what we need to get our message of real change out to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and other key states nationwide."

Romney, the wealthiest candidate, has requested that hundreds of his supporters gather Monday at a sports arena in Boston to spend the day dialing for dollars. His campaign will give them breakfast and a "casual lunch," according to the invitation. The fundraisers are asked to bring their contact lists, a cell phone and -- anticipating a good day -- their phone chargers.

As the June 30 deadline approaches, the leading contenders are attempting to lower expectations of just how good their financial takes will be.

"It will be a challenge to match the number that we had in the first quarter," said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden.

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