updated 1/31/2008 9:04:51 PM ET 2008-02-01T02:04:51

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raised $32 million in the single month of January, a whopping figure that has permitted the campaign to boost staff and extend advertising to states beyond the sweeping Feb. 5 contests, aides said Thursday.

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The amount was the most raised in one month by a presidential candidate who still faced a primary challenge.

Obama is now advertising in 20 of the 22 states in play for next week’s Super Tuesday and plans to begin advertising in seven more states that hold primaries or caucuses later in February. Rival Hillary Rodham Clinton is advertising in 12 Super Tuesday states, including her home state of New York.

With John Edwards out of the race, Clinton and Obama are in a fierce race for delegates to secure the nomination. Feb. 5 offers the biggest single opportunity for delegates, but it is impossible for either one to seal the nomination on that day.

Thursday was the deadline for campaigns to file their end of year finance reports, numbers that were fairly dated given the hyperactive month of January with its slew of early contests and heavy spending.

In an e-mail to supporters Wednesday evening, the campaign said it had attracted 224,000 new donors in January for a total of more than 700,000 overall. The $32 million raised in one month matches the campaign’s best three-month fundraising period in 2007, when the campaign raised $30 million in primary money and $2 million for the general. The money raised in January was all for the primaries.

Aggressive fundraisers
“We think that the strength of our financial position and the number of donors does speak to financial sustainability if it ends up going through March and April,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said of the race. “We think we will have the financial resources to conduct vigorous campaigns in the states to come.”

Obama and Clinton have been aggressive fundraisers: Both raised more than $100 million in 2007.

Clinton’s end of year finance report, filed Thursday evening with the Federal Election Commission, showed she raised $26.5 million in individual contributions during the last three months of the year. She spent $39.2 million during the period and had $37.9 million left as the year began. Clinton reported an end-of-year debt of nearly $5 million.

While the Clinton campaign has not released its January totals, Obama’s fundraising for the month was expected to eclipse hers.

“Once people start voting that’s a more important measure of performance,” said Clinton spokesman Jay Carson. As for money, “That’s one measure of a campaign.”

“It’s one of the most important markers in the period before actual voters start voting. We’re no longer in the invisible primary, we’re in the real primary.”

The Republican contest features far less money.

John McCain, boosted to front-runner status after winning the Florida primary this week, had raised $7 million during the first three weeks of January. Advisers said his fundraising had surged since the Florida victory and since his endorsement Wednesday by Rudy Giuliani. He raised a total $37.5 million during 2007.

Rival Mitt Romney, with personal assets of up to $250 million, has shown few qualms about writing a personal check to supplement his fundraising. On Thursday, campaign aides said Romney had an aggressive strategy to confront McCain with television ads in California and other Feb. 5 states. The decision signaled that Romney might be prepared to dip into his wealth once again.

Giuliani, who exited the race Wednesday after finishing a distant third in Florida, raised nearly $60 million last year, according to his end-of-year report. He raised $14.2 million in the last quarter and had $12.8 million in the bank going into January. He reported a debt of nearly $1.2 million.

Huckabee has best quarter
Republican Mike Huckabee, who had canceled his press plane last week in a money saving measure, resumed the flight this week. His campaign also planned to place television ads in Southern states in play Feb. 5, including Alabama, Georgia and his home state of Arkansas. It also will advertise in Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

According to his end-of-year FEC filing, Huckabee had his best quarter during the last three months of 2007 as his campaign began to gain traction, particularly in Iowa. He raised $6.6 million from October through December and had $1.9 million in the bank at year’s end.

But the former Arkansas governor’s victory in the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3 did not translate into a wave of money. Since the South Carolina primary on Jan. 19, however, the campaign has raised more than $3 million online and $1 million at fundraisers.

Dark horse Republican Ron Paul had raised $4 million in January, according to his Web site. He caused a sensation at the end of last year with several major online fundraising days. He raised a total of $19.5 million during the final three months of the year, a sharp increase from the $5.2 million he raised during the previous quarter.

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Associated Press Writers Mike Glover and Libby Quaid contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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