Sen. Barack Obama outraised Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton by $10 million in second-quarter contributions that can be spent on the Democratic presidential primary contest, aided by the contributions of 154,000 individual donors.
Obama's campaign on Sunday reported raising at least $31 million for the primary contest and an extra $1.5 million for the general election from April through June, a record for a Democratic candidate.
Clinton's campaign announced late Sunday that she had raised $21 million for the primary. With general election contributions added, aides said her total sum would be "in the range" of $27 million. Candidates can only use general election money if they win their party's nomination.
Obama's whopping amount ensures his place as a top contender for the Democratic nomination. It steals the spotlight from Clinton, his main rival. And it establishes the two of them as the fundraising juggernauts of the entire presidential field.
Counting this quarter's surge of donors, the first-term senator from Illinois has received donations from more than 258,000 donors through the first half of the year, an extraordinary figure at this stage of the campaign. Obama raised $25.7 million in the first three months of the year.
"Together, we have built the largest grass-roots campaign in history for this stage of a presidential race," Obama said in a statement Sunday. "That's the kind of movement that can change the special interest-driven politics in Washington and transform our country. And it's just the beginning."
The Clinton campaign would not divulge its number of donors.
Dropping a tier?
Meanwhile, Democrat John Edwards raised more than $9 million from April through June and relied on nearly 100,000 donors during the first half of the year.
The fundraising total met the campaign's stated goal but was about $5 million less than what he took in during the first three months of the year. The campaign has said it is on track to raise $40 million by the Iowa caucuses in January.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was at Edward's heels, with his campaign reporting more than $7 million raised. But Edwards' six-month total was $23 million, compared with more than $13 million for Richardson.
"Democrats are clearly engaging the public and expanding the donor base," Edwards deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince said Sunday in reaction to Obama's fundraising.
He said the aim of the Edwards campaign was to attract more contributors by holding more small donor events to build a grass-roots network. "We feel we are exactly where we need to be," Edwards adviser Joe Trippi said. "This is not a money race, it's a race to win the nomination."
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., on Sunday reported raising $3.25 million in the quarter for his presidential campaign, bringing his total raised this year to $7.3 million. Dodd last quarter also transferred $4.7 million from his Senate campaign account. His campaign said he had $6.5 million cash on hand at the end of the quarter.
The figures that some campaigns released Sunday are estimates. Details of how much the campaigns raised and spent in the latest period will not be available until the candidates file financial reports with the Federal Election Commission by July 15.
While several Democrats revealed their total sums, Republicans were not expected to announce their figures until Monday or later in the week.
The importance of fundraising
For Obama, vaulting ahead of Clinton in the money race is an important achievement. Despite broad public interest in Obama's candidacy, he trails the New York senator and former first lady in national polls. Polls show the contest to be closer in some key early states and Obama is leading in South Carolina.
Obama aides on Sunday downplayed the polls, but the campaign has begun running biographical ads in Iowa to better acquaint voters with the candidate.
"While voters have a distinctly positive feeling about Barack, they don't have a great depth of knowledge about his life and history of leadership in Illinois and Washington," campaign manager David Plouffe wrote Sunday in an e-mail to supporters. "As we educate voters about Barack, we have strong reason to believe that our already impressive support in the early states will solidify and slowly build later in the year."
In announcing their fundraising totals on Sunday, the Obama campaign moved to ensure that his success would dominate the political news cycle as Clinton embarked on a three-day tour of Iowa with her husband, former President Bill Clinton. The campaign trip is the first time the Clintons have campaigned together in the state.
"Hillary has had a couple of good weeks, but there's nothing like killing momentum for Obama to come in with these unbelievably high fundraising numbers," said Jenny Backus, a Democratic consultant who is not aligned in the presidential contests.
At this point in the campaign, fundraising figures can act as an easy measure of candidate strength and create tiers of contenders based on their ability to amass money.
Other financial tallies can be as telling. That includes a campaign's spending rate, the size of the average donations and how much money can be used in the primary races and how much could only be tapped for the general election.
Several leading candidates in both parties have raised money for both the primary and general elections. The total numbers are misleading, however, because general election money cannot be used unless the candidate becomes the nominee. Early in the year, Obama raised more than Clinton in primary dollars.
Clinton aides have said she would raise "in the range" of $27 million in the April-through-June period in both general and primary election dollars.
Only Republican George W. Bush, in each presidential campaign, raised comparable amounts in the second quarter of the year before the general election. The single-quarter record is $35.1 million, by Bush from April through June in 2003. Clinton captured the first quarter Democratic record with $26 million, covering the first three months of this year. Clinton also transferred $10 million from her Senate campaign account in the first quarter.
Among Republicans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign has said he will fall short of the $20.7 million raised in earlier in the year.
Rudy Giuliani was expected to exceed his first quarter total of $16 million. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was struggling to match the $13.8 million he took in during the first quarter.