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Inside Politics

Schneider: Show us the money

Story Highlights

• Mitt Romney raised more than $20 million in first quarter of 2007
• John McCain's campaign "hoped to do better" than $12.5 million raised
• Hillary Clinton posted $26 million, and John Edwards raised $14 million
• Total raised by each candidate outdistances past presidential election records
From Bill Schneider
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fundraising records are shattering. That's what's happening as we begin to tabulate results for the first scorecard of the 2008 campaign.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, raised an amazing $26 million in contributions for the first quarter -- nearly three times as much as the previous record holder, former vice president Al Gore, for money raised during this three-month period.

At a campaign event Monday, Clinton told the audience that she was proud of her fundraising. "I'm proud that I have such strong financial support from across the country, with so many donors who are believing in my campaign," she said.

Clinton is not the only Democrat who had high fundraising totals. Former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, is reporting a very impressive first-quarter take of $14 million.

Contributors like to bet on winners. So the front-runners in the polls tend to be the front-runners in the money. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, who generally polls only behind Clinton among Democrats, has yet to report his numbers, but the fundraising totals are expected to be impressive.

Even Democrats further down in the polls are posting strong results. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson took in $6 million, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd raised approximately $4 million, and Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware raised $1 million to $2 million.

"Someone like Bill Richardson's ability to post $6 million in the first few months of the fundraising cycle is quite amazing," said CNN Political Editor Mark Preston. "He's from a small state, but it also shows that Bill Richardson still has a national fundraising network."

And there are a few surprises on the Republican side. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney raised more than $20 million.

"I think that the quarter goes to Mitt Romney," Preston said.

What about the front-runner in the Republican polls, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani? His $14 million take is not too shabby. And Sen. John McCain of Arizona took in $12.5 million. That sounds pretty healthy, but the McCain campaign says, ``We had hoped to do better.''

Altogether, Democrats raised more than $50 million in the first quarter. That's over twice as much as they raised four years ago.

The Republican total is approaching $40 million. The last time Republicans had a competitive race -- eight years ago -- the total was just over $14 million at this point.

Why is so much money pouring into this campaign? With no incumbent president or vice president running, the race is wide open. Clinton acknowledged the need for alternative ways to fund campaigns, saying, "Eventually, I think we've got to look toward public financing."

But Clinton and most of the leading candidates in both parties have concluded that public financing will not be adequate this year. So they're raising money for both the primaries and the general election campaigns.

When all is said and done, we could be looking at the first billion-dollar election in the nation's history. All that big money does not come from a few fat-cat contributors. The most an individual can contribute to a candidate is $2,300 for the primaries and $2,300 for the general election. It looks like a lot of people are willing and able to do that.


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