- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

3:13 p.m.

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Democrat Barack Obama raked in $25 million for his presidential bid in the first three months of 2007, placing him on a par with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and dashing her image as the party’s inevitable nominee.

The donations came from an eye-popping 100,000 donors, the campaign said in a statement today.

The figures were the latest evidence that the Illinois senator, a political newcomer who has served just two years in the Senate, has emerged as the most powerful new force in presidential politics this year. It also reinforced his status as a significant threat to Mrs. Clinton, who had hoped her own $26 million first-quarter fundraising total would begin to squeeze her rivals out of contention.

The campaign reported that the figure included at least $23.5 million that he can spend on the highly competitive primary race. The Clinton campaign has yet to disclose how much they can use for the primary verses money that is designated for the general election.

While Mrs. Clinton has honed a vast national fundraising network through two Senate campaigns and her husband’s eight years as president, Mr. Obama started his bid for the White House with a relatively small donor base concentrated largely in Illinois, his home state. But his early opposition to the Iraq war and voter excitement over his quest to be the first black president quickly fueled a powerful fundraising machine.

Since he formally declared his presidential campaign in February, Mr. Obama has been traveling the country with a focus on urban areas where he could build his momentum and bring in new donors. He attracted big-money Hollywood and Wall Street executives, along with families who came out to his stops in such places as Oklahoma that sometimes are neglected by other candidates.

More than half the donors contributed via the Internet for a total of $6.9 million, the campaign said.

“This overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country and a belief at the grass-roots level that Barack Obama can bring out the best in America to solve our problems,” said Mr. Obama’s finance chairwoman Penny Pritzker.

Donors are limited by law to contributions of $2,300 for the primary election, but Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and some other candidates also have been raising money for the general election. That allows them to take another $2,300 from each donor, but the money has to be returned if they don’t win the nomination.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign often solicited the $4,600 donations, while Mr. Obama’s campaign focused on recruiting small dollar donors. In the coming months, he can return to those donors and ask those who haven’t maxed out to give more.

Unlike Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama says he doesn’t take money from the lobbyists or political action committees that are frequent contributors to other campaigns.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle said, “We are thrilled with our historic fundraising success and congratulate Sen. Obama and the entire Democratic field on their fundraising, which demonstrates the overwhelming desire for change in our country.”

Among the other Democratic candidates, aides to former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said his $14 million in new contributions included $1 million for the general election.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he had raised $6 million and had more than $5 million in cash on hand.

Aides to Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd said he raised more than $4 million and transferred nearly $5 million from his Senate campaign, for a total of $9 million in receipts and $7.5 million cash on hand. Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. lagged behind, with his staff reporting that he had total receipts of nearly $4 million, nearly half of which was transferred from his Senate campaign account.

Among the Republican candidates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the top money-raiser with $23 million, another eye-catching sum that placed him in the same league with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama and left his Republican rivals in the dust.

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani raised $15 million for the quarter, while Arizona Sen. John McCain posted $12.5 million. Mr. Giuliani leads the Republican field in national popularity polls, followed by Mr. McCain.

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