- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Barack Obama reversed a two-month trend in June by raising more money and spending less, a tangible result of clinching the Democratic nomination.

Mr. Obama continued to raise money for the primary stage of the election, a noteworthy showing that means he has not even tried to tap most of his 1.7 million donors for general election cash.

The Illinois senator reported bringing in $52 million in June, more than twice the nearly $21.5 million raised by Republican rival Sen. John McCain during the month. Mr. Obama had $72 million in cash on hand to Mr. McCain’s $27 million, according to their reports with the Federal Election Commission.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who suspended her quest for the White House on June 7, faced a starkly different financial picture. She lent herself an additional $1 million in June to pay off vendors, increasing her total loan to the campaign to $13.2 million. The New York Democrat reported owing vendors $12 million. She raised $2.7 million from donors in June.

Unlike Mr. McCain, who spent more than he raised in June, Mr. Obama accumulated cash during the month, holding back on a ramped-up television campaign until July. Mr. McCain spent $16 million on advertising in June to Mr. Obama’s $5 million. Mr. Obama is now matching Mr. McCain’s and the Republican Party’s spending on advertising.

Mr. Obama filed his financial document Sunday; Mr. McCain on Friday.

Mr. Obama reported $25.6 million in spending in June, his lowest monthly operating costs of the year. Mr. McCain disbursed $27 million in the month, including $1.2 million to a special accounting fund for the fall campaign.

Mr. Obama’s contributions included $1.4 million raised through a joint victory fund set up with the Democratic National Committee. He reported a debt of $891,000.

While Mr. McCain reduced his cash on hand from May to June, Mr. Obama increased his by $29 million.

The different financial pictures reflect two distinct strategies by the campaigns. Mr. McCain plans to accept $84 million in public funds for the fall presidential campaign, a move that prevents him from raising or spending any money more than that sum.

Mr. Obama decided to bypass the public finance system, the first major party presidential candidate in three decades to do so in the general election. That means Mr. Obama needs to build up his cash reserves going into the fall campaign, whereas Mr. McCain needs to deplete his.

In clinching the nomination, Mr. Obama also helped the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raise money. The DNC and two victory funds it set up raised $24.2 million in June and had $20.4 million cash on hand. Mr. Obama and the party had $92 million in the bank at the start of July.

Mrs. Clinton’s decision to lend herself $1 million June 30 underscored her struggle raising money. Mr. Obama asked his donors to help her reduce her debt. A joint fundraising event in New York earlier this month brought in about half a million dollars for Mr. Obama and about half as much for Mrs. Clinton, according to fundraisers. Mrs. Clinton’s biggest single debt was $5.3 million to her senior adviser and pollster Mark Penn, but aides to Mrs. Clinton said she first intends to pay off small vendors owed money by the campaign.

She has until the Democratic National Convention at the end of August to raise money to pay off her loan, an unlikely prospect. After that, she can only pay herself back $250,000.

Mrs. Clinton ended her campaign with more than $23 million designated for the general election. She is asking donors whether she can convert that money to the campaign account for her 2012 Senate re-election. Donors also can ask for refunds of that money.

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