Obama, Thompson raise big bucks

Barack Obama raised more than $19 million this summer for the presidential primaries, holding his lead for now in the race for campaign cash though still trailing Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in national polls.

Fred Thompson, the GOP newcomer, has collected more than $11.5 million since June when he began exploring a run, Republicans familiar with his fundraising said Monday.

Obama’s Democratic rival John Edwards reported raising $7 million during the July-September quarter for a total of $30 million for the year. Aides said he would show $12 million cash on hand and was on track to meet his goal of raising $40 million by the time the first presidential contests begin in January.

Clinton, whose fundraising has nearly kept pace with Obama’s, had not released her third-quarter figures Monday. The quarter ended Sunday night.

Clinton and the top Republican presidential contenders were not expected to disclose their totals until later this week, perhaps as early as Tuesday.

Thompson’s total includes $3.5 million he raised before the third-quarter fundraising period began. Since formally entering the race during the first week of September, Thompson has raised roughly $200,000 a day, Republicans who were briefed on his numbers said.

Obama also received general election contributions during the quarter, making his overall fundraising for the period more than $20 million. That brings his total for the year to nearly $80 million — nearly $75 million for the primaries and about $4 million for the general election.

A key comparison between Clinton and Obama will be how much each has in the bank at the end of the quarter. Obama did not release his cash-on-hand figure on Monday. He spent heavily in the last quarter, especially in Iowa where he has been trying to break out of a three-way cluster with Clinton and Edwards in public opinion polls.

Obama, a freshman senator from Illinois, has emerged as a powerful fundraiser. His total contributions so far is only eclipsed by the $82.4 million President Bush raised during the same period in 2003 as he ran for re-election unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Obama and Clinton have far surpassed the Republicans in fundraising. This quarter showed signs of continuing the Democratic money advantage. Even without Clinton’s third quarter numbers, the Democratic field had raised more than $195 million so far, more than twice what Democratic presidential candidates had raised by September of 2003.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced Sunday that he had raised $5.2 million in the quarter, bringing his total for the year to $18.4 million. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is expected to show nearly $2 million in new third-quarter contributions, $6.4 million for the year. And Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut raised $1.5 million in the quarter, $8.8 million for the year, and will show $4 million in the bank, his campaign said.

Only Edwards and Dodd released cash-on-hand figures. How much the campaigns have in the bank is an important figure at this stage because it shows how well-positioned they are for the intense spending on television advertising and voter outreach that lies ahead.

The third quarter is traditionally a difficult fundraising period, and the candidates raised less in the past three months than they had in each of the first and second quarters. Obama, for instance, raised a high of $33 million in the second quarter and Edwards’ best was $14 million in the first.

Last week, Edwards announced he would accept public financing of his campaign during the primaries, a move that would give him an infusion of several million dollars but also would limit his spending to about $50 million during the entire primary season. His aides said they expect Edwards to qualify for $10 million in matching funds.

Obama’s summer total included donations from 93,000 new contributors, aides said. Overall, he has received contributions from 352,000 donors so far this year. Contributors are limited to a maximum of $2,300 each. Edwards’ advisers said his campaign had attracted more than 150,000 donors since the beginning of the year.

In the four months that Thompson has been raising money, he will have raised less than his main rivals — John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney — each raised in the first quarter. Romney raised $6.5 million in one event alone, a “National Call Day,” at the outset of his campaign.

But Thompson has attracted far more individual donors than each of the other three did during their first quarters.

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Associated Press writer Ann Sanner contributed to this report.

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