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Obama sets fundraising record with $55 million

CAMPAIGN '08: RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

The February amount is $20 million more than Clinton. Overall, Democratic campaign groups are out-raising their GOP rivals.

March 07, 2008|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

Barack Obama raised $55 million in February, $20 million more than Hillary Rodham Clinton and a record sum for a single month in any presidential campaign, aides to the Democratic candidate said Thursday.

Obama's success reflected a sharp resurgence of Democratic fundraising. New numbers showed Republicans lagging behind their rivals and well below their efforts of four years ago. Much of the difference came from the Internet.

John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has not disclosed his February sum, though his fundraising has been well behind that of Obama and Clinton.

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday disclosed that national Democratic campaign committees were significantly out-raising their Republican counterparts for the first time since the commission started counting amounts raised by party committees.

The Democrats' three main committees -- the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- raised $191.3 million in the 13-month period from January 2007 to the end of January 2008.

It represented a 26% increase from the same period two years ago, and an 85% jump from the same 13-month period in 2003-04.

Efforts by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raises money for House of Representative contests, were particularly strong.

The committee raised $71.5 million in the 13 months ending Jan. 31. That was 57% more than two years ago and $18 million more than the GOP congressional panel raised.

Overall, the Republican committees -- the Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee -- raised $186.2 million. That represented a drop of 18% from 2004 and 2006.

One notable exception was the Republican Governors Assn., which raised $21.56 million last year compared with $12.8 million by the Democratic Governors Assn.

Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant noted that despite the fundraising gap, the GOP committee had $21 million in the bank compared with $3 million for the Democratic National Committee.

Clinton campaign aides, trying to emphasize what they think is a shift in momentum toward the New York senator, said she had raised $4 million since the polls closed Tuesday in Ohio and Texas.

The money came from 40,000 donors, including 30,000 new contributors, Clinton's campaign said. Obama did not disclose a corresponding number.

Peter Daou, Clinton's Internet fundraising director, said her victories "resulted in a historic outpouring" of money.

Obama's announcement that he had raised $55 million came two days after the Illinois senator lost races in Texas and Ohio and aimed to underscore his continued political strength.

His $55-million month easily bested the previous single-month record set in March 2004, when Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) raised $43.4 million for his presidential campaign, according to FEC records. His effort was fueled by Internet donations.

Democratic consultant Bill Carrick, who is not involved in the 2008 campaign, called Obama's fundraising phenomenal and said the money he was amassing would allow him to "compete in every state for every delegate."

Carrick said that although McCain "ultimately will raise a lot of money" for the general election, "Republicans are woefully behind in Internet fundraising." He said the Democrats' dominance of Internet fundraising could allow them to out-raise Republicans for years.

Obama maintains a lead in delegates. But as he found Tuesday, the candidate with the most money does not always win. Obama significantly outspent Clinton in TV advertising in Texas and Ohio but lost both states.

The Obama campaign said that of the $55 million, more than $54 million was earmarked for the primary campaign. That's significant because it means that if he were to win the Democratic nomination, donors who provided the $54 million could give up to $2,300 each for the general election.

Obama received money from 727,972 donors in February, including 385,101 new contributors. To date, Obama has received donations from 1.07 million donors, far more than any other candidate.

Clinton had earlier disclosed that she had her biggest fundraising month in February -- $35 million, of which $34 million was earmarked for the primary campaign.

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dan.morain@latimes.com

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