Obama Rivals Clinton on Campaign Funds
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.
NOAH ADAMS, host:
And I'm Noah Adams. Coming up: recalling legendary football coach Eddie Robinson.
CHADWICK: First, the big political news today: money and a lot of it. For Senator Barack Obama, his campaign raised $25 million during the first three months of this year to fund his presidential bid. That's almost as much as the 26 million announced earlier this week by his top rival, Senator Hillary Clinton.
We're joined by John Dickerson, who's chief political correspondent for the online magazine, Slate. John - the numbers, a surprise? This big? Twenty-five million dollars for Barack Obama?
Mr. JOHN DICKERSON (Correspondent, Slate Magazine): They are a surprise, and the - a number of things are a surprise here. The big number is a surprise, the 25 million, also the idea that it was raised from 100,000 people is also a surprise, and it's kind of amazing and it has people really just blown away in the political community as e-mails go around and people talk about what Obama's been able to do here.
CHADWICK: His home paper, the Chicago Tribune, has a piece on this today citing this 100,000 number, noting that Senator Clinton raised money from 50,000 people. And the paper went in to a lot of detail about how Senator Obama did this. A lot of action on the Internet.
Mr. DICKERSON: There is a lot of action on the Internet. One of the things we're all trying to figure out is - and there are a couple of other things that Obama did here. He took his events - took smaller amounts in checks than the Clinton campaign. He raised money mostly for the primary. The Clinton campaign raised a lot for both the primary and the general election.
We don't know how much of the money, the 26 million raised by Hillary Clinton, goes to the general election, but it looks very much like it might be possible that Obama raised more in a shorter period of time with a less well-established fundraising system than Clinton had, which in some ways now makes him the frontrunner.
CHADWICK: Really? Well, that's a significant implication for Senator Clinton. What else are you hearing so far today?
Mr. DICKERSON: Well, we're - it's all, you know, sort of, trickling out. And we'll see what the response is from the Clinton camp, but this is really, sort of, extraordinary. The reason it's so extraordinary is that it suggests that, you know, it's not just people showing up at rallies. You've got people doing, you know, making the most serious commitment they can make at this stage, which is to handover actual dollars.
It also suggest in the news management of this - which is an important part of running for president - that the Obama camp was smart enough to sit back, wait for all the early stories about Hillary Clinton's big number and wait a few days and then sort of have their own news cycle to enjoy this. So it suggests they have also the discipline to put together this kind of money. Remember, the Obama campaign is quite new and has a lot going on. So there are some signs here about their ability to kind of do the nuts and bolts of what you have to do to run for president as well.
CHADWICK: I'll just note that in the Tribune story, the Obama people plainly were also talking to the Tribune reporters and noting that they had raised their money without going to lobbyists and political action committees, and that Senator Clinton does ask this kinds of people for money.
Mr. DICKERSON: That's right. I was with Obama yesterday up in New Hampshire, and he was asked a question by a voter there who said, you know, how can you be engaged in this kind of obscene fundraising process? And he essentially said, you know, look, I have to be able to compete. And the kind of legislation I would like hasn't passed yet, so I have to play by the old rules. But I'm not taking money from lobbyists and political action committees and that is - that's a strong answer for him for a lot of Democratic voters who don't like the - all the money in politics.
CHADWICK: You also spent some time with John Edwards' campaign up there. We'll note that he also raised money - 37,000 contributors to his campaign.
Mr. DICKERSON: That's right. And he raised 14 million in that first quarter. Edwards is doing well, and he made some distinctions with Obama - a little bit veiled, but essentially, he's been pushing this idea - when he was up in New Hampshire, he was saying, you know, to the voters, you've got to press the candidates. Don't let them just talk about hope. You want to hear policy specifics from them.
So he was making, you know, kind of, a shot there at Obama. Of course, yesterday, Obama in Portsmouth held a town hall for almost two hours on health care, showing that he's got the brains to talk about policy, too.
CHADWICK: Okay. Slate chief political columnist, John Dickerson - his column is up at Slate.com. John, thanks for being with us again.
Mr. DICKERSON: Thank you.
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