Democrats Raise Far More Cash Than GOP Rivals

The real jaw-dropper isn't in the 2007 year-end reports, which were due Thursday night.

It's the news that Democrat and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama raked in at least $32 million since the end of 2007 — just in the month of January.

But that's not a record; John Kerry collected $44 million in March 2004 after he clinched the nomination. Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton are still duking it out.

All of the candidates unveiled their fundraising and spending in the latest Federal Election Commission filings; the documents are giving voters a glimpse into the way money can influence the field of candidates.

Sheila Krumholz is director of the Center for Responsive Politics that analyzes political money. She says this infusion of cash into Obama's campaign may be a secret weapon, and that Obama may have an edge now since he now has more money for the primaries, more donors and a smaller proportion of donors who have maxed out their contributions.

Clinton's campaign hasn't said what her January fundraising numbers look like. Clinton and Obama finished 2007 roughly tied in terms of dollars.

Republican fundraising has not been as robust. The candidates have had to fall back on other resources.

Arizona Sen. John McCain sustained his campaign through the fourth quarter by borrowing on a line of credit. To reassure the bank, the 71-year-old candidate had to buy a new life-insurance policy.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lent his campaign $18 million — twice as much as donors gave him. The former venture capitalist has now invested at least $35 million of his own money.

Ron Paul, the libertarian outsider in the Republican race, raised $20 million in the fourth quarter, qualifying him as the top GOP fundraiser if one does not count Romney's self-funding.

Krumholz says Paul set another record as well — the number of donors who gave $200 or more. Forty-one thousand people gave Paul $200 or more, compared with fewer than 35,000 for the runner-up, Clinton.

The most regrettable record belongs to former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Not even counting January, Giuliani's campaign spent close to $50 million — for which he won a single delegate. Even adjusting for inflation, no other candidate has ever spent so much for so little.

Giuliani dropped out this week, as did Democrat John Edwards. Now their big fundraisers, or bundlers, are being courted by the remaining candidates.

Arizona lawyer Elliott Glicksman said he looked at his computer Wednesday afternoon.

"I get an email from Lawyers for Obama, saying, 'With the withdrawal today of Edwards, L for O wanted to shoot you a quick e-mail, now that many of you may be turning to Barack.'"

Another Edwards "bundler" in Arizona, Clague van Slyke III, says some of Edwards' old fundraisers from 2004 switched to Clinton last year. "But my sense is that most all the folks who stayed loyal to Edwards are now transitioning to Obama," he said.

Edwards has yet to endorse either Democratic rival.

Giuliani gave an endorsement to McCain and that seems to have nudged Giuliani's bundlers toward him. Barron Thomas is a Scottsdale developer and a veteran GOP fundraiser. He says he is probably going with McCain. Right now, he is spending time on the phone with the donors he solicits, working to bring them along with him.

"I'm going to be having different lunches and things like that, so we can stayed glued together as a family and continue forward, and I can answer questions, and we can explore the pros and cons of each candidate," he said.

Even after Super Tuesday, the spring and summer campaigns can be just as costly as the early caucuses and primaries.

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