A Stark Edge in Race for '08 Cash
New Numbers Heavily Favor The Democrats

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Campaign contributors to the 2008 presidential candidates heavily favored Democrats in the three-month period that ended Saturday, giving three dollars to the party's leading contenders for every two dollars they gave to the top Republican candidates.

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's 258,000 contributors since January exceed the combined number of donors of former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), according to estimates provided by the campaigns.

Romney announced yesterday that he has lent his campaign $6.5 million from his personal fortune to supplement the $14 million he raised from April through June. Giuliani's campaign said it raised about $15 million during the quarter. Last week, McCain announced a dramatic staff shake-up after raising only $11 million, leaving him with just $2 million in the bank.

During the quarter, Obama (Ill.) raised $32.5 million, $31 million of which can be used in the primaries. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) raised $21 million for the primaries and a total of about $27 million in the same period.

The fundraising results continued a striking reversal of fortunes for Democratic presidential hopefuls, who have often labored with less money than their Republican counterparts.

"Clearly, that's a reflection on the war and a reflection of the past," said Alex Castellanos, Romney's media consultant. "There's a lot of pent-up disappointment in the Republican Party on issues like spending. It's not just the administration, being unable to keep its promises . . . since we're the guys in charge, we pay a price for that."

The bulk of the Democratic advantage has come from Obama and Clinton. Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) raised about $9 million during the past three months, while New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson raised about $7 million.

Obama, in particular, has had tremendous success raising money from small donors on the Internet. Aides said that 110,000 people have contributed to his campaign by making small donations through the Internet.

Political observers said the Democratic enthusiasm is being fueled by anger over the Iraq war, while dissatisfaction among conservative Republicans with their choices has dampened the mood of traditional GOP givers.

"Those folks are just raising up a storm of money," said Gary Nordlinger, a Democratic consultant. "What you are showing is that there is a heck of a lot more grass-roots enthusiasm among the Democratic base than there is among the Republican base."

Giuliani aides yesterday touted their $15 million haul in the second quarter, which leaves the campaign with about the same amount in the bank. Campaign manager Mike DuHaime said in a statement that he was "thrilled" by the total.

"We are well positioned to win both the primary and the general elections," he said.

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said in a statement that his candidate's "strong fundraising support shows we have both the dedicated commitment and the ample resources to communicate Governor Romney's message and continue building our campaign's grassroots infrastructure."

Romney has raised almost $44 million since he officially entered the race this year. But virtually unknown nationally, he has also been forced to spend at a faster pace than his rivals. His campaign reported that it spent as much as it raised this spring, probably more than $20 million, leaving it with about the same $12 million it had in the bank at the end of March.

Details of the spending will not be available until the finance reports are released on July 15. Romney has been broadcasting costly television commercials for months, primarily in the states such as Iowa and New Hampshire that will hold early nominating contests. A Nielsen study showed that he had aired more than 4,500 ads as of June 10, almost half of them in Iowa.

Romney, a multimillionaire, has now lent his campaign a total of about $9 million. Without the loans from his personal fortune, Romney would have only about $3 million in the bank to spend this year.

McCain is in even worse shape. Campaign manager Terry Nelson said this week that McCain may be forced to accept matching money from the federal government, along with strict spending limits that are part of the bargain.

That would increase the disparity with Democrats, who are all but certain to abandon public financing for their primary campaigns so that they could freely raise -- and spend -- whatever they want until the party conventions next August.

If McCain accepted the public money and secured the GOP nomination early next year, he would likely find himself financially strapped and relying on the Republican National Committee to run ads on his behalf for months while the Democratic nominee would operate under no such limits.

Still, Castellanos said he is optimistic that the GOP nominee -- not surprisingly, he says it will be Romney -- will have no trouble battling whoever the Democratic Party chooses.

"It's going to be a very tight race, and ultimately a Republican will still have an advantage," he said. "We're still the daddy-bear party that's going to be trusted to protect America."

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company