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THE NATION / CAMPAIGN '08

Obama raises the funding roof

Last month's record take makes him the most successful fundraiser in U.S. political history.

September 15, 2008|Dan Morain and Noam N. Levey | Times Staff Writers

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raised a record $66 million in August, his highest monthly figure and almost $20 million more than Republican rival John McCain.

Obama's total since entering the race in early 2007 is now more than $450 million -- a figure that confirms his standing as the most successful fundraiser in U.S. political history.

Obama has surpassed President Bush as history's most prolific political fundraiser. Bush raised $270 million for his reelection campaign four years ago, and $95 million in 2000, for a total of $365 million.

Additionally, the Democratic National Committee and other committees established by the DNC and the candidate raised $17.3 million in August.

The Obama campaign also said $10 million came in during the days after Aug. 29, when McCain selected Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee.

The Republican National Committee took in $23 million in August. With McCain's $47 million, the two sides will have entered the final two months with combined bank accounts of about the same size.

Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, predicted that Obama, McCain and their political parties would spend $220 million to $240 million each between now and Nov. 4.

"They have built an infrastructure like we've never seen," Corrado said of the Obama campaign, pointing to the $20 million Obama has poured into a Latino voter registration drive and field operations in the battleground states.

Obama's latest receipts counter talk that his fundraising had tailed off. Corrado said such talk reflected a lack understanding of how Obama had built his fundraising operation.

Obama relies on high-end donors to give the maximum $2,300 directly to his campaign account, but has more than 2 million donors overall, many of whom give small amounts regularly over the Internet.

Obama has several large-dollar fundraisers in the coming days, including one Tuesday at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Donors are expected to give $28,500 to the Democratic National Committee.

Barbra Streisand will headline a separate event at the Regency Wilshire in Beverly Hills that same evening.

Additionally, former President Clinton has promised to campaign for Obama and is sure to raise millions more.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigned for Obama on Sunday in the key battleground state of Ohio, urging supporters in Elyria and Akron to work as hard for Obama and Joe Biden as they had for her, the Associated Press reported. She revised her Democratic convention admonition to: "No way, no how, no McCain and no Palin!"

Meanwhile, organized labor and others launched multimillion-dollar ad campaigns in battleground states.

The two-million member Service Employees International Union announced Sunday that it was spending $2.1 million on pro-Obama advertising.

The union already has spent $21 million on the presidential campaign, including $9.7 million since June, when Obama locked up the nomination, Federal Election Commission disclosures show.

The latest ad is airing in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Iowa. It depicts a mother discussing the strain placed on her family by the tough economic times.

The announcer then says: "John McCain said, 'I know a lot less about economics . . . I still need to be educated.' . . . No wonder he said we're better off than we were eight years ago."

Also Sunday, the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund announced it would run the first ad to specifically target Palin. The ad, to run in Ohio, focuses on her support for aerial hunting of wolves and shows gruesome footage of a hunt and a mortally wounded wolf.

"Sarah Palin not only condones the aerial hunting of wolves and bears, she actively promotes it," the organization said in a statement. "She has even gone so far as to propose a bounty of $150 for every severed left foreleg of a wolf the hunters can produce."

McCain's campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the ad and Palin's stand on wolf hunting.

Independent groups have spent $52 million on the presidential race since last year.

A new nonprofit group, the American Issues Project, spent $2.8 million last month on ads attacking Obama over his relationship with former Weather Underground activist William Ayers.

The group is preparing a new round of ads attacking Obama. The National Rifle Assn. has spent $230,000 to defeat Obama.

On Sunday, McCain campaigned under overcast skies in New Hampshire, where he and his wife, Cindy, visited the state's largest motor speedway before the Sylvania 300 NASCAR race.

McCain dropped in on racing crews in the company of racing legend Richard Petty and Red Sox pitching ace Curt Schilling, and helped welcome the drivers at the starting line.

McCain later told a local television station that he was a huge NASCAR fan, though he did not stay for the race. (McCain headed back to the airport Sunday afternoon to fly to Jacksonville, Fla., for a campaign rally this morning.)

McCain, who has been under increasing fire for misleading advertising attacking Obama, did not talk about the campaign at the racetrack.

But elsewhere, he drew criticism from an unexpected source.

Former Bush strategist Karl Rove told "Fox News Sunday" that he believed some of McCain's ads had "gone one step too far in sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100% truth test."

After campaigning in the key battleground of Florida today and Tuesday, McCain plans to meet up with Palin for a rally Tuesday afternoon in Youngstown, Ohio.

--

dan.morain@latimes.com

noam.levey@latimes.com

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