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Publication: Progressive Review
Obama Reaped $32 Million in January

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Enlisting New Donors, Obama Reaped $32 Million in January
By Leslie Wayne and Jeff Zeleny
The New York Times

As he was winning contests in Iowa and South Carolina, 
Senator Barack Obama raised $32 million in January for 
his presidential bid, tapping 170,000 new contributors 
to rake in nearly double the highest previous one-month 
total for any candidate in this election cycle. 

This extraordinary influx of cash comes at a critical 
time, and is helping to fuel the Obama campaign's nation-
wide advertising blitz and get-out-the-vote effort as it 
competes in the 22 states holding nominating contests on 
Tuesday, including expensive ones like California and New 

The money was mostly collected from small donors, who the 
campaign is hoping will continue to give in coming months 
and who represent an increasingly formidable force in 
presidential fund-raising. By contrast, Senator Hillary 
Rodham Clinton has relied more on a smaller pool of big-
money donors, many of whom have already given the maximum 
allowable under the law. 

The $32 million is significant because no candidate who has 
not yet secured the party nomination has raised this amount 
in a single month. In March 2004, Senator John Kerry, 
Democrat of Massachusetts, raised $44 million, but that 
was after it was clear he would be the nominee. In this 
election cycle, the highest monthly take previously was the 
$17 million raised by Mrs. Clinton, of New York, last March.

"This is astonishing, and it may be Obama's secret weapon," 
said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for 
Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks 
campaign spending. "He has more small donors that he can 
squeeze for more donations, fewer donors who have maxed 
out and more donors in general." 

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The Clinton campaign had not yet released fund-raising 
totals for January. 

For all of 2007, Mrs. Clinton raised $118 million, and 
Mr. Obama $103 million. But a greater share of Mrs. 
Clinton's money than Mr. Obama's is directed to the 
general election, as many of her donors have reached the 
maximum they can give to her primary campaign. 

The one-month total for Mr. Obama, of Illinois, also shows 
the growing power of the Internet as a fund-raising tool. 
Veteran fund-raisers said it would have been impossible 
for the campaign to raise that sum by relying solely on 
well-heeled donors and "bundlers," donors who tap networks 
of acquaintances for support. 

"When you get $32 million in one month, it is not because 
you have bundlers working," said Orin Kramer, a New York 
financier and Obama fund-raiser. "It is because you have 
an avalanche of small donors operating online. It's a 
revolution. People like me don't achieve those kinds of 

What is particularly surprising is that this one-month 
total, which the campaign was eager to preview on Thursday, 
is coming after a year of intense fund-raising by 
Democratic candidates, who have far outraised their 
Republican counterparts. But with the race going beyond 
the Feb. 5 contests, the need for cash by the Clinton and 
Obama campaigns is expected only to increase. 

"Most money is usually raised at the beginning, when the 
strongest supporters quickly come up with the most," said 
Jan Baran, a campaign finance lawyer in Washington who 
advises Republicans. 


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On the Republican side, the candidate filings show other 
struggles. That of Senator John McCain of Arizona shows 
that his finances were perilously thin as the year ended 
and before he scored a major victory in the New Hampshire 
primary, which reinvigorated fund-raising efforts. 

For the year, Mr. McCain raised $42.1 million, with $10 
million of that coming in during the fourth quarter; he 
ended the year with $2.9 million in cash on hand. The 
McCain campaign said Thursday that it raised $7 million 
in the first three weeks of 2008. 

But Mr. McCain also ended the year with debts of $4.5 

His chief opponent, Mitt Romney, raised more than twice 
as much, $90 million, in 2007. But Mr. Romney, who has a 
personal net worth estimated at up to $250 million, lent 
his own campaign $35 million. His campaign ended the year 
with only $2.4 million in cash on hand, an indication of 
the campaign's high spending rate. 

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, who had been 
running a shoestring campaign, reported raising $9 million 
in 2007, with $6.6 million of that raised in the fourth 
quarter. The money began to flow as his campaign gained 
traction in Iowa, where he won the Republican caucuses on 
Jan. 3. Mr. Huckabee ended 2007 with $1.9 million in cash 
on hand. He had not released figures for January. 

By contrast, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York 
mayor, who withdrew from the race Wednesday and threw his 
support to Mr. McCain, had robust fund-raising through 
2007, even as his political fortunes fell. He reported 
having $12.8 million in cash on hand at the end of the 
year, having raised $14.4 million in the fourth quarter 
and $61.4 million for the year. He withdrew after losing 
the Florida primary. 

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Wilbur Ross, a New York financier and Giuliani fund-raiser, 
said Giuliani donors had been "getting a lot of phone 
calls" from the McCain camp. Many Giuliani backers withheld 
donations to Mr. McCain out of courtesy until Mr. Giuliani 
officially withdrew. In addition, Mr. Ross said some 
Giuliani money might well go to Mr. Romney, former governor 
of Massachusetts. 

The Romney campaign had not yet filed its fund-raising data 
for the year. 

Mr. Obama's fund-raising has also taken a page recently 
from the Ron Paul, a Republican candidate who has an 
interactive fund-raising clock on his Web site that has 
excited donors and brought him tens of millions of dollars. 

The Obama campaign boasts of having 650,000 contributors 
over all and said that the strength of the campaign's 
recent fund-raising drive would sustain Mr. Obama in the 
primary battles ahead. 

"If this ends up going through March and April, we think 
we're going to have the resources necessary to conduct 
vigorous campaigns in every state," said David Plouffe, 
the Obama campaign's manager. 

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