- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

After they ran almost dead even in campaign fundraising in 2007, Sen. Barack Obama has beaten the pantsuit off Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in fundraising since Jan. 1, outraising her $136.4 million to $76.5 million.

That includes another dominating performance last month, when he raised $42.8 million to Mrs. Clinton’s $20.9 million, according to reports filed late Sunday with the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Obama went into this month with $51.1 million cash on hand and little debt, leaving him well-positioned for this month’s stretch run to today’s Pennsylvania primary, while Mrs. Clinton began the month with $31.7 million on hand and $10.3 million in debts.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said the Illinois senator’s fundraising advantage makes Pennsylvania competitive and positions him for the rest of the Democratic presidential race.

“Just a few weeks ago, polls had Senator Clinton up nearly 20 points in Pennsylvania and her staff said she was ‘unbeatable.’ Senator Obama has won in red states, blue states, and swing states like Missouri, Colorado and Wisconsin, proving that he is the one candidate who can bring the country together and beat John McCain in November,” Mr. Vietor said.

Sen. John McCain, the Republicans’ presumed nominee, continues to lag both of his potential opponents, having raised less than $40 million during those three months, including just $15.4 million last month, when he had sewn up the nomination. By comparison, Sen. John Kerry raised $44.2 million in March 2004, the month he sewed up the Democrats’ presidential nomination.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds downplayed the Republican’s slow fundraising.

“Our fundraising effort is not about parity, it’s about having enough to be successful,” he said. “We feel strongly that John McCain’s experience with the issues that matter and his long-standing reputation as an agent of change will make the difference.”

Mr. McCain has made use of the past month by paying off his campaign loan and refunding general election campaign contributions — a sign he will follow through on his pledge to take public financing for the general election phase of the campaign, which runs from Republicans’ early-September convention through the election, FEC records show.

Through March 30, Mr. McCain raised $76.7 million and spent $65.1, with $11.6 million in cash on hand and debts totaling $707,041.

Money hasn’t always translated into victory this year. Mr. McCain was less well-funded than two of his primary competitors, and Mr. Obama’s giant fundraising lead in February — he outdistanced Mrs. Clinton by nearly $20 million that month — didn’t lead to clear-cut victories in Ohio and Texas in early March.

That’s something Clinton spokesman Jay Carson pointed out yesterday.

“The fact that he is outspending us in Pennsylvania by such a big margin — as he did in Texas and Ohio — certainly belies his argument that the state should be a big, easy win for Senator Clinton,” Mr. Carson said. “And if that kind of spending in the last several contests results in losses for him — as it did in Ohio and Texas — it should give Democratic voters pause about him as a general election candidate.”

While Mr. Obama generally forgoes contributions from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees, Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton both accept them.

The Center for Responsive Politics calculates Mr. McCain has raised $590,952 from lobbyists and $724,103 from political action committees, and Mrs. Clinton raised $865,290 from lobbyists and $1.2 million from various political action committees.

During the 2007-2008 election cycle, Mr. McCain has recruited more lobbyist-fundraisers than any other candidate, with 59, compared with 20 for Mrs. Clinton and 10 for Mr. Obama, according to Public Citizen, a national nonprofit consumer-advocacy organization. This includes fundraisers who work as registered lobbyists and have signed on as bundlers for the candidates, each promising to raise at least $100,000.

Jerry Seper contributed to this article.

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