Obama campaign fundraising on target


UNITED STATES:DESPITE LEAVING the country for more than a week, Senator Barack Obama raised more than $51 million (€35 million) in July, keeping him in line to collect more than half a billion dollars for his 2008 presidential bid.

The showing, almost double what presumptive Republican nominee John McCain raised in the same month, was fresh evidence that Obama has maintained his record-setting pace after a contentious primary contest with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was also part of a larger trend in which Democratic candidates and party committees have been able to close the fundraising gap with their Republican counterparts.

Based on the figures the Obama campaign made public on Saturday, Senator Obama has now raised some $400 million in his campaign for the White House, and his top aides believe funds could come in at an even faster rate when voters are paying closer attention to the contest in September and October.

Mr McCain's campaign announced last Friday that the senator from Arizona raised $27 million in July, bringing his total to just over $170 million to date.

During the 2004 primaries, by comparison, President Bush raised $258 million during the 2004 primary campaign, while his opponent, Senator John Kerry, raised $215 million before accepting the Democratic nomination. Mr Obama's July figure represents the third-highest monthly fundraising total in history. His high-water mark came in February, when he raised $55 million.

While online contributions for Mr Obama's campaign have been credited with much of his fundraising success, he has also engaged in an aggressive courtship of the nation's wealthy elite. He now has at least 35 bundlers who have each raised more than $500,000 for his campaign.

Last Friday, the Federal Election Commission released a review of party fundraising over the past 18 months that found Democratic Party committees have raised 25 per cent more during this election cycle than at the same point four years ago. Republicans have experienced a 12 per cent decline.

The report shows total contributions to Democratic Party accounts is up from $278 million during the 2004 election cycle to $351 million so far this year.

Republican donations are down during the same period, from $464 million to $409 million.

- (LA Times-Washington Post service)