Clinton, Obama Top $100 Million In 2007 Donations

Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 1, 2008; Page A04

Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton each surpassed the $100 million fundraising mark for their presidential campaigns in 2007, according to people directly familiar with their finance operations, the first time two candidates have eclipsed that milestone before a single primary vote was cast.

The two Democrats have set a breakneck fundraising pace for the crowded presidential race since the beginning of 2007, a contest defined by the pursuit of both wealthy donors and newcomers lured to make smaller contributions through the Internet.

"It's unprecedented," said Michael S. Berman, a campaign veteran who organized fundraising for former vice president Walter F. Mondale's 1984 Democratic campaign. "What we did, it's not even relevant anymore. The amounts just keep growing. I don't know if there is an upper limit."

Aides to the Democratic front-runners did not say yesterday how much cash they had remaining to spend, as last-minute donations were still being tallied.

Both will still fall short of President Bush's record for money raised in a non-election year -- $131.8 million in 2003, when he ran virtually unopposed for the Republican nomination -- but the success of Clinton (N.Y.) and Obama (Ill.) differs in that it came during one of the most crowded and competitive presidential races in history.

On the Republican side of the ledger, the most striking development in the latter part of 2007 was the staggering haul for Rep. Ron Paul, the maverick Texan who was the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate in 1988. While other Republicans have lagged well behind the Democratic front-runners this year, Paul saw money gush in through the Internet and brought in $20 million over the past three months. Candidates close the books on their 2007 fundraising at midnight.

Paul's take offers a striking example of the technology's strengths and limitations for a candidate with a strong appeal to a relatively narrow band of voters. While it put him among the top fundraising performers, he continues to lag well behind in polls.

"You can't escape it -- anyone who has toiled in the trenches of fundraising would agree that the performance by Ron Paul is absolutely miraculous," said Philip A. Musser, a Republican campaign consultant. "But the real story of the Internet this year is the way all of these candidates have tried to leverage their potential online."

Most of the candidates declined to release their year-end fundraising totals, which must be reported to the Federal Election Commission by Jan. 31.

Advisers to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said yesterday that his campaign has regained its financial footing over the past three months. The same holds true for GOP candidate and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, whose Web site reports that he has raised more than $5 million online since the end of September.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, one of the fundraising front-runners among Republicans, was expected to raise $6 million to $10 million in the final quarter. He is supplementing contributions with millions of dollars of his own money.

Former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.), who has already qualified for $9 million in public matching funds, reported yesterday that between 11 a.m. and noon his operation took in more money online than in any previous hour of the campaign.

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