- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 18, 2003

If “money is the mother’s milk of politics,” as California’s then-Democratic Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh famously said in the 1960s, then several formerly high-rolling Democrats seeking the presidency would be starving. John Edwards, once hailed as the party’s golden boy of the future, reaped $7.5 million in individual contributions during first-quarter reporting. During the second, Mr. Edwards’ campaign raised less than $4.5 million. But it was not nearly as disappointing to his camp as the $2.5 million Mr. Edwards pocketed during the third quarter, including the nearly $500,000 he transferred from his Senate coffers.

An even bigger loser was John Kerry, who, during the first quarter, rang up more than $10 million (more than a quarter of that was a transfer from his Senate campaign coffers). Mr. Kerry raised $5.8 million during the second quarter, but only $3.9 million during the third quarter, finishing well below the $4.5 million-to-$5 million goal his campaign expected to meet.

Meanwhile, Dick Gephardt, a fund-raising titan before he began chasing the gold ring a second time, raised $5.9 million in the first quarter, but $2.4 million came from his House war chest. His campaign just turned in its third consecutive disappointing quarter, during which he once again failed to raise $4 million from individuals.

Joe Lieberman, who has spent most of this year atop nationwide Democratic presidential polls, raised even less than Mr. Gephardt during the July-September period. It’s gotten so bad at Joe2004 headquarters that the former vice presidential candidate is seriously considering boycotting the Iowa caucuses.

Compared to most of his opponents, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who spent the last part of September collecting $3.5 million that the draft-Clark committee had waiting for him, had a good quarter.

While Messrs. Kerry and Edwards have raised successively smaller amounts over the first three quarters of this year, and Messrs. Lieberman and Gephardt are essentially batting 0-for-3 in the money game during the same period, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has begun to soar. After raising nearly $3 million in the first quarter, Mr. Dean led the pack during the second period, when he pocketed more than $7.5 million. During the third quarter, Mr. Dean raised $14.8 million — more than the combined receipts of Messrs. Edwards, Kerry, Lieberman and Gephardt. In doing so, he passed the $10-million-plus goal he set early in the quarter and shattered the Democrats’ previous quarterly presidential fund-raising record of $10.3 million set by incumbent President Clinton.

President Bush, meanwhile, raised $49.5 million in the third quarter. That represents a nearly $15 million improvement over the $35.1 million he raised during the second quarter. Having spent the first three quarters feverishly working at raising funds, Democratic heavyweights Edwards, Kerry, Gephardt, Lieberman and Dean have cumulatively raised $84.9 million. That’s virtually identical to the $84.7 million raised by the president, who, by the way, held his first fund-raiser on June 17.

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