- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 17, 2008

CHICAGO | Sen. Barack Obama announced Saturday he had raised more than $51 million in July for his presidential run, nearly double his opponent’s fundraising haul.

The sum was aided by a donor contest in which 10 contributors were chosen to go “backstage,” along with several big-dollar fundraisers, for the Illinois Democrat’s Denver convention speech.

The campaign said that more than 65,000 new donors gave during the month.

Mr. Obama now has $65.8 million in the bank, all of which he can spend through the Nov. 4 election.

Republican rival Sen. John McCain of Arizona raised $27 million in July and has $21 million in the bank. He has to spend that money quickly because he is accepting federal public financing for the general election, while Mr. Obama is not. The McCain campaign said it has received money from 600,000 donors — fewer than one-third the number of people the Obama team has.

“The 65,000 new donors to the Obama campaign demonstrate just how strongly the American people are looking to fundamentally change business as usual in Washington,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said.

“We are proud of the millions of volunteers and more than 2 million donors to the Obama campaign, who will provide the backbone of our campaign to put America back on track and reject the old politics and failed Bush policies, which is all John McCain is offering.”

Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain met on a stage for the first time since becoming their parties’ presumptive nominees — for a Saturday night religion forum in Lake Forest, Calif., hosted by evangelical pastor Rick Warren.

The Democratic National Committee also announced its July fundraising totals and said it had outraised the Republican National Committee for the first time in almost four years.

The DNC raised $27.7 million in July and has $28.5 million in the bank. The RNC collected $26 million in July and now has $75 million on hand.

The Obama campaign also announced that Mr. Obama and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner will hold an invitation-only town-hall meeting Wednesday in Martinsville, Va., near the North Carolina state line, to meet with workers on jobs and trade policies.

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