Fundraising Race Begins for Candidates

Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani have announced the amounts they have raised in the last three months. Democrat candidates have also released their results: Hillary Clinton leads all candidates in fundraising.

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

NOAH DAMS, host:

And I'm Noah Adams.

The first presidential primary is still nine months away at least, but already the money race is at a record pace. Today, Republican contenders Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani announced what they raised in the first three months of this year. And we're joined by NPR's senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. How are the GOP candidates doing?

RON ELVING: Noah, this is going to be the first presidential race in which the candidates together, as a group, spend a billion dollars - a billion dollars. And they're off to a very good start in the first quarter of 2007. This morning, we got the numbers from Rudy Giuliani. He's leading in the polls right now. He's the former mayor of New York, which is a reasonably good money town, and he reports raising $15 million - one-five, 15 million, pretty good for a guy who's not even officially all the way in yet as a candidate.

And his campaign says they raised 10 million just in March. That would put him on a faster pace than Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who so far leads the GOP pack in fund raising. He announced $23 million for the quarter today, and that's pretty impressive for a guy who's at three percentage points in the latest Gallup Poll match up.

ADAMS: You bet. Now the headlines this morning were about the Democrats, the numbers that Senator Hillary Clinton and former Senator John Edwards released this weekend. What's the comparison here?

ELVING: Well, the Romney number does come fairly close to Hillary, but she's still the fund-raising champ so far. She raised 26 million - that's $3 million more than Mitt Romney - between January 1st and last weekend. Now that's plus the 12 - or, excuse me - $10 million that she could roll over from 2006. So she raised 26 million. That raised her total fundraising to $36 million. And now then we have Barack Obama, who is the second running candidate not yet having declared, and John Edwards clocking in at $14 million.

ADAMS: Now you mentioned Democratic Senator Barack Obama. He didn't say what he'd raised so far, but he did make some news by saying that the Democrats will continue to fund the war in Iraq even without a deadline for withdrawal. And they're expecting, of course, President Bush to veto their war-funding bill. What's the deal there?

ELVING: He is making a point that I think most people in Washington consider to be an undisputed point, and that is that while the Senate is willing to make a statement that it wants a timetable and it wants to set a target date, it isn't willing to play chicken, to use the senator's phrase. It isn't willing to play chicken with the funding of U.S. troops on the ground.

Now, that statement is not going to please anti-war activists who really want to go to the mat over this. But right now I think Obama thinks he is probably okay with that wing of the party. And as for the funding eventually going through, as I say, I don't think there's anyone who doesn't think that it will eventually go through.

And a little later on in the week, he's expecting to make some news could come today or tomorrow with a fundraising total of his own, which is going to be pretty impressive. I think people are expecting it to be over $20 million.

ADAMS: Ron, you go way back. Have you ever seen this much money this early?

ELVING: Absolutely not. And what we're doing at this point is we're doubling what used to be considered the standard for good fundraising. Or if you want to put it in another way, we have just accelerated the schedule, and we're looking at what are good numbers for the first quarter that used to be good numbers for the whole six months of the year before the election.

ADAMS: Senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. Thank you.

ELVING: Thank you, Noah.

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