- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

CORRECTION: Because of an editing error, this article incorrectly characterized contributions to Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Supporters of Mark Warner, Virginia’s former governor who was considering a run for president, contributed to Mr. Obama’s campaign, but Mr. Warner did not.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has out-raised all but his chief rival for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, and has out-spent every other Democratic candidate — more than $1.5 million more than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Analysts studying the latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings warn that Mr. Obama is taking the same path as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, whose 2004 Democratic presidential campaign generated early excitement but collapsed quickly after his defeat in the Iowa caucuses.

“Basically this is a candidate who is a fresh face, doesn’t have very much political baggage, who has a lot of charisma and is dealing with an electorate that is not pleased with the Democratic establishment,” said Costas Panagopoulos, director of Fordham University’s master’s degree program in elections and campaign management.

The quarterly FEC report revealed information about the campaigns’ donor bases. Mr. Obama has a clear edge over his Democratic rivals among small donors, with 22 percent of his fundraising coming in contributions of less than $200, accounting for $5.8 million. Small donors accounted for 9 percent of Mrs. Clinton’s fundraising and 15 percent of contributions to former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

“But that is another parallel,” Mr. Panagopoulos said. “Dean also held the lead in small-money donations in 2004 with about 56 percent of his donations coming from those donors, so we shouldn’t overstate it, and it was Dean who was raising the big money from numerous donors in 2004, but at the end of the day it did not guarantee him the nomination.”

Democrats are raising money more easily than Republicans during this election cycle, out-raising Republicans by more than $30 million overall, former FEC Chairman Michael Toner said. “There’s a lot more energy on the Democratic side at this point,” he said.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is in a strong position, Mr. Toner said, because her rate of spending was less than 20 percent of her receipts — a frugal pace for a major national campaign operation.

Mr. Obama has given Mrs. Clinton strong competition in the battle for Hollywood donors. Television producer J.J. Abrams and actress Rosanna Arquette are among those who gave the maximum contribution to his campaign.

Mr. Obama also has received contributions from supporters of former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and other Democrats who once considered a presidential run. Donald S. Beyer Jr., chairman of Mr. Warner’s campaign, donated the maximum $2,300 to Mr. Obama.

Political consultant Sam Riddle said the success among small donors is a good sign for Mr. Obama.

“It sends a messages that you are a people-rooted campaign,” said Mr. Riddle, who worked on Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns, and the 1992 presidential campaign of former California Gov. Jerry Brown. “When you can get millions to participate and donate small amounts to your campaign, you have an easier time and you can focus on other things.”

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