- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sens. John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton are considered the front-runners for their parties’ 2008 presidential nominations and have the money to back it up.

Fundraising numbers soon to be released will show how much their rivals have raised since the decisive midterm elections last month.

Mrs. Clinton of New York continues to lead the field of Democrats with $14 million cash on hand after spending $35.9 million on her successful re-election campaign.

The fundraising numbers for Republicans are much smaller. Mr. McCain, of Arizona, leads the pack with more than $1.1 million in the bank.

Now that Mr. McCain has announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee, those numbers are expected to grow when postelection fundraising totals are released.

Lawmakers had until Thursday last week to submit figures to the Federal Election Commission.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, topped only by Mrs. Clinton in most Democratic polls, had less than $1 million at the end of November, but he gave more generously than the others to House candidates from his party.

Shortly after the elections, Mr. Obama announced that he was considering a 2008 campaign and said he would discuss it with his family over the holidays.

Because he was not in a re-election contest, Mr. Obama was able to pull $380,843 from his personal campaign finances and his Hope Fund political action committee for various Democratic candidates during the 2006 cycle. Campaign finance laws limit such contributions to $1,000 per candidate from his campaign fund and $5,000 from his PAC.

Mr. Obama ranks 17th on the overall list of top contributors for the cycle but fourth among Democratic officeholders.

Only incoming House leaders Nancy Pelosi of California, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland and Rahm Emanuel of Illinois gave more. None is considering a bid for higher office.

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner also gave more than Mr. Obama, but the Democrat has since ruled out a White House bid.

Another Democrat considering a presidential run is Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the party’s nominee in 2004. Mr. Kerry’s Keeping America’s Promise PAC raised $7,745,626 during the 2006 cycle, spending nearly all of it — $7,331,884 — on other Democratic campaigns and campaign activities.

A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Mr. Kerry trailing Mr. McCain and another Republican, former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, by double digits in a hypothetical matchup. Other polls also show him trailing Mrs. Clinton among Democratic voters.

Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, who has announced his own campaign committee, has more than $10 million at his disposal.

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