- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2008

DUNCANSVILLE, Texas — Sen. Barack Obama announced yesterday he has collected campaign money from more than 1 million donors, shattering records as rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she was in the race for the long haul.

“I’ve been funded by you,” Mr. Obama told a voter, who asked if he would keep his promises should he be elected in November, during a town hall forum in suburban Dallas.

“I don’t have any strings attached to me. The only people I owe are you,” he said, because he has not accepted lobbyist donations.

Mrs. Clinton, earlier yesterday, said she disagreed with criticism that she lacked a “knockout” in Tuesday’s debate.

“That’s a prize fight; that’s not a debate,” the New York senator said, adding that the debate in Cleveland succeeded in drawing “real contrasts” with Mr. Obama, of Illinois.

Mrs. Clinton — who has lost 11 consecutive contests to Mr. Obama but closely trails him in nominating delegates — said she is optimistic about wins in potentially pivotal primaries Tuesday in the delegate-rich states of Ohio and Texas.

“I’m doing everything I can to win,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters on her plane en route from Cleveland to Zanesville, Ohio, an impoverished Appalachian town, to campaign on her economic-recovery plan.

“You know what keeps me optimistic is … the success I’ve had thus far and what I think the prospects are for Tuesday,” Mrs. Clinton said, noting newfound support that is helping her raise $1 million a day on the Internet.

Her campaign has sent out repeated fundraising appeals in recent days. Yesterday, former President Bill Clinton asked supporters to help “close this gap” because “the Obama campaign has upped the stakes again” and is outspending Mrs. Clinton on television ads.

“We cannot let this race be decided by Obama’s spending advantage on the air,” he wrote.

Earlier yesterday, Mr. Obama said in his announcement that his fundraising totals prove change is possible.

“One million people like you own a stake in a grassroots movement that is not just competing, but thriving, in a political process that’s been dominated by special interests for far too long,” he said in the e-mail to supporters, asking them to volunteer to make phone calls instead of give more money.

Financial woes are one reason Mrs. Clinton is suffering. She raised $100 million last year, but much of that came from donors who gave the legal maximum contribution and could not be resolicited.

Many of Mr. Obama’s donors gave $100 or less, and have upped their giving along the way.

Mr. Obama leads Mrs. Clinton in the delegate race 1,373 to 1,277, according to an Associated Press count of pledged delegates won in state primaries and caucuses and party superdelegates who have committed to a candidate.

A candidate needs 2,025 delegates to capture the Democratic nomination.

Mr. Obama yesterday won over two more superdelegates — Sen. Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.

“After taking some time for serious reflection on this issue, I have decided that when I cast my vote as a superdelegate at the Democratic convention, it is my duty … to express the will of the people,” said Mr. Lewis, who toiled last year over the endorsement of Mrs. Clinton but opted to switch his support to the freshman senator after his district overwhelmingly went for Mr. Obama on Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.

Mrs. Clinton — who criticized Mr. Obama in the debate for not strongly enough repudiating the endorsement of anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan — had to deal with reports of a racist comment by one of her supporters, Adelfa Callejo, 84, a prominent Hispanic lawyer in the Dallas area.

KTVT in Dallas asked Mrs. Clinton to address Mrs. Callejo’s reported comment that “Obama’s problem is that he happens to be black.”

Mrs. Clinton said voters should judge candidates “on our merits [and] look beyond race and gender.” But she stopped short of rejecting and denouncing the comment, as she demanded of Mr. Obama in the debate.

“You know, this is a free country. People get to express their opinions,” she said.

She said she didn’t see any comparison to the Farrakhan endorsement.

Ms. Bellantoni was traveling with Mr. Obama and Mr. Miller was with Mrs. Clinton.

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