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Inside Politics

Bush raises record funds at year's end

President Bush is greeted Monday at a political fund-raiser at the America Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
President Bush is greeted Monday at a political fund-raiser at the America Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush and his re-election team raised more than $130 million last year to finance his drive for a second term and starts the new year armed with a $99 million war chest, campaign manager Ken Mehlman said Tuesday.

The campaign raised $47 million in the last three months of 2003 -- collecting average contributions of $146 from 288,000 contributors.

That's more than the combined total of $31 million raised by Democrats Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Joseph Lieberman and John Kerry.

"We're making history today for the number of grassroots donors, the scope and breadth of donors, as well as amount raised and saved," Mehlman told reporters in a conference call.

Mehlman reiterated the campaign's overall goal is to raise between $150 million and $170 million for a primary campaign in which the president faces no major opposition.

When asked whether the campaign would stop raising funds if the $170 million threshold is reached, he replied, "Stay tuned."

Bush has now far surpassed in seven months the record $100 million he raised for his entire 2000 presidential bid.

Bush's effort eclipses Dean, who broke his party's fund-raising record for the second consecutive quarter.

But the former Vermont governor still raised less money all year than the president raised in seven months.

Dean himself has set an ambitious goal to match or out-raise the president by raising $200 million from 2 million contributors.

With $40 million raised last year, the former Vermont governor would have to raise an additional $160 million over the next seven months.

Dean raised more than $15 million in the last three months of 2003. In that same time, Clark raised $10 million; Lieberman raised $3.6 million; and Kerry raised $2.5 million.

CNN political researchers Robert Yoon and Todd Gharring contributed to this report.


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