- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2007

Referring to the $26 million raised during the first quarter by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle said, “We are completely overwhelmed and gratified by the historic support we’ve gotten.” Ms. Doyle also announced that the campaign had “dramatically exceeded our goals and expectations,” while other Clinton officials called the total “staggering.”

Mrs. Clinton raised more than $50 million for her 2006 Senate re-election. She spent more than $40 million, much of it assembling a national donor network. Facing an unknown Senate opponent who raised about 10 percent of her war chest, the Clinton campaign apparatus took advantage of the opportunity to lay the fund-raising groundwork for a presidential run. In addition to the $26 million raised in the first quarter, Mrs. Clinton has transferred about $10 million from her Senate campaign to her presidential operation.

When Mrs. Clinton announced her presidential candidacy in January, her network immediately began seeking individual contributions of $4,600. (Before 2003, the maximum individual contribution for presidential primaries was $1,000.) The $4,600 sum included the current maximum limit of $2,300 for the primaries and another $2,300 for the anticipated general election. That made her the first major-party candidate in the post-Watergate era to announce an intention to forgo federal funding for the general election. The Clinton campaign has declined to say how much of the $26 million must be set aside for a possible general election campaign. It is worth noting, however, that then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush managed to raise more than $7 million (when the maximum cumulative contribution was $1,000) in less than a month after announcing his presidential candidacy on March 2, 1999.

In addition to being able to rely on Bill Clinton, who has been feverishly working the fund-raising circuit, Mrs. Clinton has also enlisted the services of Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman. Mr. McAuliffe demonstrated his prowess during the 2004 campaign when the DNC raised more money ($394 million) than the Republican National Committee ($392 million) despite the fact that Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. During the 2005-06 cycle, after Mr. McAuliffe turned the DNC keys over to Howard Dean, the RNC outraised the DNC $243 million to $131 million.

After spending six years and untold millions assembling a national donor network, Mrs. Clinton should have been able to vacuum up more than $26 million in low-hanging cash. Unfortunately for her Democratic opponents (and, probably, the Republican nominee), the McAuliffe-operated money machine will almost certainly get into high gear very soon. We still fully expect to be staggered.

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