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Clinton’s campaign has most in bank

Sen. Barack Obama raised more money than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for their Democratic primary clash during the first three months of the year, but Clinton heads into spring with more in her campaign account than all Republican presidential candidates combined.
/ Source: a href="" linktype="External" resizable="true" status="true" scrollbars="true">The Washington Post</a

Sen. Barack Obama raised more money than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for their Democratic primary clash during the first three months of the year, but Clinton heads into spring with more in her campaign account than all Republican presidential candidates combined.

Obama, a first-term Illinois senator who launched his presidential bid with no national fundraising network, raised $24.8 million for the primary campaign during the first quarter, and the former first lady raised $19.1 million, the campaigns reported last night.

Perhaps the greatest advantage for Obama going forward is that fewer than half of his 104,000 contributors "maxed out" for the primary by hitting the $2,300 contribution limit, meaning he can turn to them again for support. Clinton, by contrast, received nearly three-quarters of her haul from those who wrote $2,300 checks and who cannot contribute to her again unless she is the party's nominee.

But Clinton established a solid overall financial advantage by transferring $10 million from her Senate campaign account and limiting her spending -- in part by carrying $1.6 million in debt, including money she owes to several key advisers. She also raised $7 million that can be spent only if she becomes the nominee.

"Obama won the money race, and it shows he's a real threat to Hillary," said Jenny Backus, a Democratic strategist who is not working for any candidate.

The numbers come from the first full reports that most candidates have presented to the Federal Election Commission; they were required by law to file before midnight. Those reports offer the first glimpse into how the campaigns have spent their money and from whom they have collected it.

Overall, the documents show a staggering increase in money flowing into presidential politics at this early stage -- more than $125 million to date, a fourfold increase from eight years ago.

$1 billion campaign?
"It's a telltale sign of what lies ahead," said Michael Toner, former chairman of the election commission, who has predicted that the nominees will together chew through more than $1 billion before one reaches the White House.

Fundraising totals that might have dropped jaws four years ago, such as Democrat Bill Richardson's $6.2 million take for the quarter, now appear modest when matched against the tens of millions amassed by Clinton and Obama.

The numbers also continue to reflect a highly energized Democratic Party. For the first time in at least three decades, Democratic donors have given significantly more than Republicans to their presidential hopefuls. Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist, called the split between the parties a sea change. "Not only did we outraise them, but we outraised them substantially," he said.

Figures for Republicans, which candidates posted Friday and Saturday, showed that former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney each came out of the first quarter with nearly $12 million on hand. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), once viewed as the GOP front-runner, had just over $5 million on hand -- about as much as Richardson, the New Mexico governor, had.

The reports are valuable not just for their totals, but for details about the campaigns that can be revealing. For instance, Romney's report showed that his campaign paid $25,919 to Regency Productions in Virginia Beach for "travel," presumably to rent an aircraft. Regency is run by Jay Sekulow, a close ally of Pat Robertson's, and the arrangement could be a sign of support for Romney among Christian conservatives -- a key constituency for GOP primary hopefuls and one that Romney, a Mormon, has been courting.

The reports also uncover trends that can signal strength or weakness. Both McCain's and Obama's reports showed large numbers of small donors, meaning they can return to those donors for more money. Giuliani's and Clinton's reports show donations from large numbers of donors who have maxed out, meaning the candidates will have to find new sources of cash.

Clinton reached her totals with a big fundraising push during the final week in March, just before the books closed for the quarter. She held a series of gala events that week, and her report showed that they played a critical part in her effort. More than a quarter of her money came from donors in three cities where galas were held -- New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

She also had help from 84 "Hillraisers" -- well-connected supporters who each collected at least $100,000 for her campaign.

They included Ron Burkle, a supermarket billionaire who is one of former president Bill Clinton's closest friends; Steve Bing, a Hollywood producer; Steve Grossman, the former chairman of the Democratic Party; and Rep. Nita M. Lowey of New York.

Obama had substantial support from longtime Democratic donors as well, with a hefty portion of his money flowing from titans in his home town of Chicago, such as his national finance chair, Penny Pritzker, a Hyatt hotel heiress, and Paula Crown of the Henry Crown family. The Crowns are worth an estimated $4.1 billion and hold stakes in the Chicago Bulls, the New York Yankees, Hilton Hotels and Rockefeller Center.

But Obama also tapped a surge of support online. His campaign raised $6.9 million over the Internet from more than 50,000 donors, and an additional $3.4 through mail and phone grass-roots efforts.

L.A. turf battle
In the Los Angeles area, where Obama and Clinton have waged a high-profile battle to capture the support of big donors and celebrities, particularly in traditionally liberal Hollywood, Clinton came out ahead, collecting $892,950 to Obama's $713,142. The other contenders from both parties raised a combined $1.2 million in that region.

Behind Clinton and Obama in the Democratic field was former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who finished the quarter with $10 million on hand. His finance reports showed that more than $5 million of Edwards's haul -- more than one-third of his total -- was raised from lawyers, a natural base of support because of his successful law practice in his home state.

The other Democratic candidates' fundraising totals are dwarfed by Obama's and Clinton's. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) finished March with $7.5 million in reserve, Richardson had about $5 million in cash, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) had $2.8 million, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) finished with $164,000.

On the GOP side, McCain, the presumed front-runner, raised the least of the major candidates and had $5.2 million remaining. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) had about $807,000, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee roughly $374,000, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) $273,000, and former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson about $140,000. Former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III banked just $90,000.

Giuliani raised about 62 percent of his money from contributors who gave the maximum donation for the primary process. Romney and McCain raised less than half of their funds from the those large-dollar donations.

A sizable segment of Romney's haul came from Utah, suggesting that a major part of his funding came from fellow Mormons. Four of the 10 Zip codes from which Romney received the most money were in Utah, and the leading Zip code is home to Brigham Young University, which Romney attended. He raised $2.8 million in the state, more than one-tenth of his total.

Database editor Sarah Cohen, political researcher Zachary A. Goldfarb and researcher Derek Willis contributed to this report.