- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas | Sen. Barack Obama raised $52 million in June and had $72 million banked for the presidential campaign, showcasing a massive donor network that the Democratic candidate can continue to tap until the Nov. 4 election.

“I know this isn’t the first time we’ve asked you for money, and it won’t be the last,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told supporters Thursday when announcing the haul.

June was the second best month to date for the senator from Illinois. Campaign donations averaged more than $1.7 million per day during the month, when Mr. Obama wrapped up the presidential nominating contests and announced he would become the first major party candidate in history to opt out of the public financing system established in 1974.

The money allows his campaign to continue airing biographical ads in the 18 states targeted as battlegrounds and helps fund the unprecedented number of campaign offices in all 50 states. The spending pace also keeps Mr. Obama’s Republican rival, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, on the defensive in traditionally red states that President Bush won easily in 2004.

June was the biggest fundraising month for Mr. McCain. He raised $22 million, bringing his total to $132 million compared with Mr. Obama’s $340 million.

The Obama campaign said the average June donation was $68, far less than the $2,300 legal maximum.

Mr. Obama argues that he has created a new public financing system, attracting more grass-roots support than big-money donors and refusing money from lobbyists and political action committees.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, speaking at the Netroots Nation conference here, hailed the Obama campaign’s fundraising as true campaign finance reform.

“When your average donation … is $68, you are owned by nobody but the American people,” he said to loud applause from the 2,000 liberal activists and bloggers.

Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee have a combined $92 million cash on hand. Mr. McCain and the Republican National Committee have $96 million on hand.

Each team is sending e-mails warning of the other’s potential advantage.

Mr. Plouffe said $52 million is a “healthy number” that puts Mr. Obama in a “very strong financial position.”

“But we can’t stop now,” he wrote. “It’s going to take everything we’ve got to defeat John McCain and the Republican National Committee … [which] together still have a huge cash advantage, and we need your help to close the gap.”

“We’re facing a Republican machine with unprecedented resources at its disposal,” he wrote, in part because of “vast amounts of unregulated money being raised by shadowy outside groups.”

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis offered a similar warning in a fundraising note Thursday, while announcing the relaunch of the “McCain Aces” group that earns recognition by name on the campaign site with a contribution of $25 or more.

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