Clinton, Obama stuffing war chests

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton had banked a daunting $24 million for the Democratic presidential campaign at the end of the first quarter even as rival Barack Obama outdid her in a display of fundraising prowess. Clinton, the senator from New York, raised $19 million for the primary election during the first quarter, trailing Obama, who reported raising $24.8 primary funds the same period. Obama reported $18.2 cash on hand for the primary. John Edwards raised $13 million for the primary, placing him third in fundraising among leading Democrats. He reported $10.7 million in the bank at the end of the quarter. Clinton’s cash on hand received a big boost from a $10 million transfer from her Senate campaign account and from surprisingly low spending during the first three months of the year. She reported operating expenses of $5 million, with about one-fifth of it spent on staff salaries. The deadline for filing finance reports with the Federal Election Commission was midnight Sunday. Most Republicans filed their reports on Friday and Saturday. Democrats waited until Sunday to post their documents. The figures are early barometers of a candidate’s fundraising base and organizational strength. So far, candidates are on a record-setting pace that is shattering past thresholds for fundraising and spending. Most leading candidates from both parties plan to bypass the primary public financing system, placing a greater premium on early fundraising. For the first time since changes in campaign finance law in the 1970s, many candidates are considering forgoing public money in the general election and are raising money for that cycle as well. On that front, Clinton leads the way, raising $6.9 million, a sum that must be kept separate and can’t be touched unless she wins her party’s nomination. Clinton’s cash on hand for the primary tops all candidates who have already reported to the FEC. The amount is more than twice the bank balances reported by Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., reported $6.4 million in cash on hand for the primary election. That money includes a transfer from his Senate campaign account of nearly $5 million. Meanwhile, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson showed surprising fundraising considering a late start and a state legislative session to occupy much of his time. He reported raising $6.25 million and having $5 million cash on hand. Sen. Joe Biden ended the quarter with a balance of $2.8 million. Among Republicans who filed earlier, Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, was the fundraising leader, with $20.7 million in donations. But Giuliani, the former New York mayor, stayed even with him with cash on hand. Both have more than $10 million in the bank. Meanwhile, John McCain, the Arizona senator perceived as an early leader in the race, had half as much money in the bank as each of his two main rivals and had a $1.8 million debt. That said, Romney is still fighting to gain name recognition. Though he spent more than $1.8 million in ads to publicize his face in key states, polls still place him in third or fourth place, sometimes trailing Republicans who aren’t even in the race. Giuliani is leading in the polls, buttressed by his image for unflappability after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. But his donor base is the smallest among the leaders and his spending, off to a late start this year, could catch up to his donor income as the campaign progresses. After spending more on staff than Romney or Giuliani did, McCain is now cutting his payroll and is revamping his fundraising operation.last_img

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