- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In only his third year as a U.S. senator, Barack Obama repeatedly exceeded fund-raising expectations throughout 2007 as his presidential campaign collected $102 million in contributions. It turned out that he was just getting warmed up. During the first three months of this year, he raised a stunning $132 million. The monthly fund-raising totals were $36 million in January, $55 million in February and $41 million in March. Between January 2007 and March 2008, he raised nearly $234 million.

After barely topping Mr. Obama by collecting net contributions of $105 million during 2007, Hillary Clinton fell way behind during 2008 after people began casting votes. During the first quarter of this year, she raised only $69 million. Her monthly fund-raising figures for the first quarter were $14 million in January ($22 million less than Mr. Obama’s), $35 million in February ($20 million less than Mr. Obama’s) and $20 million in March ($21 million less than Mr. Obama’s). Beyond the $173 million in contributions that she raised between January 2007 and March 2008, Mrs. Clinton transferred $10 million to her presidential campaign from her 2006 Senate race and personally lent another $5 million to her presidential effort.

In addition to falling $61 million below Mr. Obama’s total contributions through March, Mrs. Clinton’s fund-raising total included $23 million that could only be spent during the general-election campaign. Mr. Obama raised only $8 million in general-election money.

Through March, Mr. Obama’s total campaign-operating expenditures ($188 million) exceeded those of Mrs. Clinton ($160 million) by $28 million. Such a large spending differential has almost certainly made a significant contribution to Mr. Obama’s narrow leads in the cumulative popular vote and in pledged delegates.

Even after Mr. Obama had spent nearly $30 million more than Mrs. Clinton through March, because of the huge advantage he enjoyed in fund-raising for the primary campaign, Mr. Obama entered April with a massive cash-on-hand advantage over his rival. On April 1, three weeks before yesterday’s crucial Pennsylvania primary, his campaign balance sheet reflected $43 million in primary-campaign cash and less than $1 million in debts.

After setting aside the $23 million in money that can be spent only during the general election, Mrs. Clinton entered April with less than $9 million available for the primaries, according to her recent filing with the Federal Election Commission. However, that filing also revealed that her campaign had more than $10 million in debts above and beyond the $5 million she owed to herself for her personal loan. Like the millions of “homeowners” whose mortgage balances exceed the value of their homes, the Clinton presidential campaign was “underwater.”

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