Sen. Obama Breaks Fundraising Record
JOHN YDSTIE, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm John Ydstie.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have broken the Democratic Party's record for fundraising in a presidential race. Just one candidate has ever collected more money this far ahead of the primaries and the caucuses, and that's President George W. Bush, the man each hopes to replace.
NPR's Peter Overby reports.
PETER OVERBY: With the books now closed for the second quarter of 2007, Senator Obama's campaign says he raised $31 million that he can use in pursuit of the nomination, plus another million or so that he could use in a general election campaign. Senator Clinton's campaign estimates receipts of about $27 million. They haven't broken down the split between primary and general election funds.
The sums that Obama and Clinton have raised since January would have financed an entire primary race from the Iowa caucuses to the convention as recently as eight years ago.
Ms. SHIELA KRUMHOLZ (Director, Center for Responsive Politics): It's hard not to be dazzled by these dollars.
OVERBY: Sheila Krumholz is director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks candidates' cash.
Ms. KRUMHOLZ: They are ahead of even the quotas that the candidates had kind of set for themselves, which when the set them back in the start of the year, seemed astronomical.
OVERBY: Obama's campaign has another number to brag about as well - more than a quarter of a million of donors, that's unprecedented in presidential politics. Official reports aren't due with the Federal Election Commission till July 15th. Till then, all of the campaigns are making the most of what they've got.
Former Senator John Edwards is often described as number three in the three candidate top tier of Democrats. The Edwards campaign said yesterday that it raised more than $9 million in the second quarter. That's down from the first quarter, but right on track, they say, for their strategy of targeting the early primary and caucus states.
On a conference call yesterday, a reporter asked Edwards' deputy campaign manager, Jonathan Prince, if the gap between Edwards and Clinton and Obama is pushing him out of that top tier.
Mr. JONATHAN PRINCE (Deputy Campaign Manager, John Edwards Presidential Campaign): Tier - smear. That's a judgment you guys need to make. I am very confident that we are in an excellent position to win this nomination, and we have a plan to do it.
OVERBY: A similar dynamic is playing out in the Republican contest, only if the dollar amounts are much smaller and the campaigns are holding back the numbers till later this week.
Former New York Mayor Rudolf Giuliani is expected to have the best fundraising - up from the $15 million he raised in the first quarter. The GOP first quarter leader was Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. A memo from his campaign predicts a falloff from the first quarter. The explanation: Romney is spending more time talking to primary voters and less time talking to check writers. Romney is a millionaire, and he recently wrote his second big check to the campaign. The campaign hasn't said how big.
Senator John McCain is third in the GOP top tier. He was supposed to be the frontrunner, but his first quarter was weak, and every signal from his campaign is the quarter two won't be any better.
Sheila Krumholz at the Center for Responsive Politics says it's too early to conclude that lack of cash will knock any of the top tier candidates out of the race - at least not yet.
Ms. KRUMHOLZ: There's a threshold beyond which even candidates in the second tier are on good footing to compete.
OVERBY: That said, she adds this about why candidates with the most cash have the best chance.
Ms. KRUMHOLZ: To have that kind of flexibility should they need to respond quickly with an ad blitz or come back responding to criticism quickly.
OVERBY: Even the criticism that presidential politics are too focused on money. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.
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