Obama's Fundraising Power
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Thirty-two point five million dollars. That's how much Barack Obama has raised in just the second quarter of this year, in just three months. It's more than Hillary Clinton has raised, a lot more. And it's near the record President Bush set in the last election. Joining us now for our regular Monday political conversation is NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Hi, Ron.
RON ELVING: Hello, Madeleine.
BRAND: That is a lot of money.
ELVING: Yes, I'm just feeling in the presence of so many Benjamins. I'm speechless. Dollar signs…
BRAND: And Hamiltons and everything else.
ELVING: Yes, yes. Dollar signs in my eyes.
BRAND: Right. So, where did he get his money?
ELVING: He got it from a wide, wide growing base of donors of all sizes. Now, of course, some people are right up front giving him the $2,300 maximum. He has many wealthy donors. But he also has a total of 258,000 donors. This is a huge base. The average is just $202. That's the average gift he's getting from these folks. And so he can go back to them again and again over the next six or eight months in the primary season and then back to them again, of course, in the general election because they're nowhere near having given the maximum.
BRAND: All right. I said earlier in the intro that this was a lot more than Senator Clinton has raised - about 10 million more, I believe. What does it mean, though, because public opinion polls show that she's still far ahead of him?
ELVING: She is indeed, and that is of course still more important. These are just dollars. They're not votes. But then, on the other hand, polls are not votes either. And what we're seeing is an emergent strategy, I think, on the part of the Barack Obama campaign.
They're not going to try to overtake her in the out year, the 2007 year before the first voting event. They're going to try to outrace her and just trying to hang back there within hailing distance of her in the polls so that if he can win some of these voting events in January, or if Hillary should fall back into the pack and it becomes a longer running contest, he'll be in position at that juncture to be the obvious alternative.
BRAND: And what about the Republicans? Who's raising money there on that side?
ELVING: Rudy Giuliani is expected to raise more money than anybody else in the second quarter. We don't have his number yet, but we're expecting to get it early this week. And Mitt Romney, who has the big fundraising story on the Republican side in the first quarter, has fallen back a little bit. He's told people he's not going to raise the $21 million that he raised in that first quarter. He's going to be somewhere down in the teens. We don't know how far into the teens. Giuliani is expected to be in the high teens as well. So we expect him, perhaps, to takeover the number one slot.
Also notable among the Republicans is that Romney is contributing substantially from his own very deep pockets to his campaign. He's trying to stay competitive by contributing a little bit of his own so as to stay right up at the top with Rudy and not look like he's losing too much fundraising momentum.
BRAND: And then we've got the juggernaut - the July 4th juggernaut of Fred Thompson, right?
ELVING: Yes, indeed. Now, a lot of people have been talking about Fred Thompson being the reason why neither Giuliani nor Mitt Romney is raising money at the Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama levels, that people are hanging back. Many of the major Republican donors who have been big financial players for that party over the years have not chosen a horse yet in this race. So a lot of folks think when Fred gets in officially on the Fourth of July, a lot of people are going to open their wallets for the first time.
BRAND: And Ron, a lot of people are going to start putting Fred Thompson into the top tier and John McCain slipping down.
ELVING: He has not looked at all like the frontrunner he was supposed to be in the 2008 cycle. And in this fundraising quarter, the second quarter of the year, he's struggling just to hit that $13, $14-million level that he hit in the first quarter and which was regarded as quite disappointing. So, if he doesn't get back even to what he did in the first quarter, I think then a lot of people are going to figure that he's done and Fred Thompson can move right into the top tier in his place.
BRAND: NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Thank you.
ELVING: Thank you, Madeleine.
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