- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 21, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A surge in Internet fund raising arrived just in time for Sen. John Kerry this month.

The Democratic presidential candidate started March with just $2.4 million in the bank to counter the $110 million campaign treasury amassed by President Bush, according to the monthly campaign-finance report that Mr. Kerry filed Saturday with the Federal Election Commission.

Mr. Kerry’s financial outlook improved quickly after he swept the “Super Tuesday” primaries March 2. He has collected at least $14 million online since then and is challenging donors to give an additional $5 million to $6 million this week.

Next week, Mr. Kerry will start a national fund-raising tour aimed at raising $15 million to $20 million more by early May.

The Massachusetts senator took in $8.4 million and spent nearly $8.3 million in February on his way to securing the Democratic nomination.

Mr. Kerry raised $41.4 million from the start of his campaign last year through last month. That includes about $6 million in loans financed by mortgaging his family’s Boston home. Mr. Kerry had spent $39 million and had $7.7 million in campaign debts as of March 1.

Mr. Bush, facing no Republican opponent, started March with $160 million raised and $49 million spent. That record fund-raising pace has continued this month: As of mid-March, Mr. Bush has raised about $170 million.

The president tapped his campaign fortune to start a multimillion-dollar TV and radio ad campaign immediately after Mr. Kerry’s “Super Tuesday” victories.

Mr. Kerry, too, has been airing ads, but far fewer. Millions of dollars in spending on ads in battleground states by pro-Democratic groups that oppose Mr. Bush have bought Mr. Kerry time to accumulate more campaign money.

Besides online money drives and fund-raising events, Mr. Kerry is building his team of volunteer fund-raisers. Late last week, he released an updated list of supporters who have collected $50,000 or more for him.

Both men declined public financing and its roughly $45 million spending limit for the primary season. That allows them to spend as much as they can raise until their party’s nominating convention in late summer, when each is expected to accept full government financing of about $75 million for the rest of the campaign.

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