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Monday, Apr. 02, 2007 at 8:47 PM
WASHINGTON - Two Democratic presidential candidates broke previous fundraising records during the first three months of the year, with Sen.Hillary Rodham Clinton setting a high bar of million in new contributions for the quarter.
Former Sen. John Edwards raised more than million since the beginning of the year. Clinton also transferred million from her Senate campaign account, bringing her total receipts for the quarter to million.
Unlike Edwards, Clinton aides would not reveal how much of her total was available only for the primary election and how much could be used just in the general election, if she were the party's nominee. By not breaking down the amount available for the primaries, the Clinton camp made it impossible to assess how much of an edge she actually has over Edwards.
Edwards' aides said about million of his million in contributions could only be used in the general election, should he win the nomination.
Neither Clinton nor Edwards disclosed how much money they spent in the quarter or how much cash they had in hand — numbers that also give clues to the relative strengths of the campaigns.
Still, the total raised by each candidate outdistanced past presidential election records and set a new bar by which to measure fundraising abilities.
Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) of Illinois — sandwiched in public opinion polls between Clinton and Edwards — had yet to reveal his totals. Obama was expected to be among the top Democratic fundraisers.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's campaign said he had raised million in primary campaign money and had more than million cash in hand at the end of the three-month period.
Aides to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said he raised more than million in the quarter, transferred nearly million form his Senate campaign account and had .5 million cash on hand.
Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record), D-Del., had total receipts close to million for the quarter, an aide said Sunday. That amount includes less than million transferred from his Senate campaign account. Richardson, Dodd and Biden only raised primary election money.
The rest of the Democratic field and the Republican presidential candidates planned to announce their first-quarter totals over the next few days. The fundraising deadline for the January through March period was Saturday, with financial reports due April 15.
Republican Phil Gramm of Texas and Democrat Al Gore of Tennessee held the records for first-quarter receipts: .7 million for Gramm in 1995 and .9 million for Gore in 1999. Gramm dropped out before New Hampshire held the 1996 election's first primary.
"We are completely overwhelmed and gratified by the historic support that we've gotten this quarter," Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle said. The Clinton total included .2 million raised through the Internet, typically a source of small donations.
By not breaking down the amount available for the primaries, the Clinton camp made it impossible to make clear comparisons to past campaigns or to the Edwards total.
"We're above our budget for the year," Edwards deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince said. "We're completely on track to have all the money that we need to be highly competitive in the campaign."
Fundraising has been the top priority of the presidential campaigns. Clinton has packed her schedule with gala events and intimate dinners and has received substantial help from her husband, former President Bill Clinton, a hit among contributors. Edwards, a former trial lawyer, has lawyers in prominent positions on his fundraising team. The Edwards campaign saw a spike in donations, especially online, after Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, announced that her cancer had returned and was incurable.
Both campaigns issued pleas for donations in the final hours of the quarter, using the approaching deadline to motivate donors.
Obama also has raised money aggressively and aides said he had more than 83,000 donors. Clinton's supporters had fretted in recent weeks that Obama could surpass her in fundraising.
Obama, in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, was coy.
"I think we'll do well," Obama said. "I think that we should meet people's expectations. More importantly, I think we will have raised enough money to make sure we can compete for the next quarter and beyond. I think we'll do pretty well."
Edwards reported raising more than million on the Internet and easily passed the .4 million first-quarter fundraising mark he set in his 2003-04 presidential campaign.
No Republican presidential candidates had released fundraising totals Sunday.
For the first time since the post-Watergate era changes to campaign finance laws, candidates are considering bypassing the public financing system for the presidential primaries and the general election. Several of the top candidates are raising both primary and general election money, artificially inflating their receipts.
Candidates cannot touch their general election money and must return it to donors if they do not win the nomination.
The Federal Election Commission ruled recently that candidates could also collect general election money now and still accept public financing later, provided they returned the money they raised. The opinion came at the request of Obama, who then said he would finance his general election campaign if his Republican rival did as well. Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., issued a similar challenge.
The first-quarter totals are one gauge of a campaign's strength. Compared with previous elections, attention to fundraising during the first three months of this year has been especially acute because the leading candidates have decided to forgo public financing for the primaries.
For more information on the presidential campaign visit : www.YouTubePolitics.org
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