Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama says his
campaign has raised $25 million in the first three months of this year,
nearly matching the $26 million raised by Democratic frontrunner Hillary
Clinton. As VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington,
Obama's strong showing in campaign fundraising suggests a very competitive
race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination next
The Obama campaign said the $25 million in donations came from more
than 100,000 people during the past three months, including nearly $7
million raised over the Internet.
The fundraising figure was released as Senator Obama brought his
campaign to the early contest state of Iowa.
"We have by far the most donors of any campaign, so the overwhelming
number of our donations oftentimes come in small increments of 25 and 50
dollars," said Barack Obama.
Senator Obama nearly matched the $26
million raised by Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, which was announced
earlier this week. Clinton continues to lead public-opinion polls among
Democratic candidates and has been seen as the frontrunner for the party's
Obama has been running second in the polls behind Senator Clinton.
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, who has been running in third
place, raised $14 million in the first quarter of this year. Edwards
recently announced that his wife, Elizabeth, is battling a recurrence of
Obama has only been in the Senate for two years and is a relative
newcomer on the national stage, but he has drawn large and enthusiastic
crowds since he began his campaign in February.
Political experts say the surprisingly large fundraising total for
Obama will boost his campaign and could raise doubts among some Democrats
that Hillary Clinton has a lock as the party nominee next year.
On the Republican side, the big fundraiser was former Massachusetts
Governor Mitt Romney, who raised $23 million. Romney is running a distant
third in most polls behind former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and
Arizona Senator John McCain.
Giuliani has raised nearly $15 million this year and McCain raised
Romney told NBC's Today program that his surprisingly large fundraising
total should boost his campaign.
"But in the states where I spend a lot of time like Iowa, New
Hampshire, Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, people know me, they are
warming to my message," said Mitt Romney. "And I am very heartened by the
fact that I have received extraordinary contributions from all over the
country, so it is a message that is connecting. People want to see change
Former Republican Party strategist Matthew Dowd says political rivals
and experts closely watch the amount of money the candidates are able to
"If you do not exceed expectations, if you go below expectations, it is
a huge problem," said Matthew Dowd. "If you exceed expectations, it is a
Never before has so much campaign money been raised so early in a
Many states are holding their caucus and primary elections earlier in
2008, forcing candidates to spend money sooner on advertising and campaign
"And this has resulted in the nominees having to face a much more
compressed and a much more early primary election season, requiring them
to raise money at a much faster rate," said Ross Baker Ross Baker, a
professor of political science at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Baker says the competition among the presidential contenders to raise
money has become the first important test of the 2008 campaign.
"And now, in fact, the effort to raise money has become a kind of
primary election in itself, in which the quarterly reports that campaigns
give become a kind of financial referendum on how strong the campaigns
are," he said.
By law, private citizens are limited to donations of $2,300 to a
candidate for the primary elections and another $2,300 for the general
The major candidates are raising so much money for 2008 that this may
be the first presidential election that the major candidates turn down
public matching funds to finance their campaigns.
Presidential candidates have taken advantage of the matching funds in
every election since 1976, part of a 1974 campaign reform law designed to
limit campaign spending and the influence of wealthy special interest
donors in U.S. presidential elections.