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Inside Politics

Clinton out-raised but still sits atop largest war chest

Story Highlights

• Sen. Hillary Clinton raised $19 million for the primaries in the first quarter of 2007
• Sen. Barack Obama raised $24.8 million for primaries in the same period
• Clinton transferred $10 million from Senate fund, giving her largest war chest
• Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney outpaced other GOP candidates
By Robert Yoon
CNN Washington Bureau
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, has raised less money so far in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination than her chief opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, but she still sits atop the largest cash reserves of any White House hopeful, according to campaign finance reports filed Sunday.

Clinton raised $19 million from contributors in the first three months of the year specifically for her nomination bid, compared to $24.8 million for Obama, according to the reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Overall, the New York senator actually brought in a record amount for this point in a presidential race, $36 million.

In addition to funds the New York senator raised for the primary fight, Clinton also raised $7 million that is earmarked for the general election and can only be spent if she wins her party's nomination.

She also transferred an additional $10 million from her 2006 Senate re-election account, which, at the end of March, gave the former first lady the most available cash of any presidential candidate, Democratic or Republican, with $24 million in the bank that can be spent on her nomination bid.

Obama has $18.2 million banked for use in the primaries, with about $900,000 saved for the general election. Former Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, posted $9.7 million in primary cash-on-hand, with another $1 million earmarked for the general election.

Edward raised $13 million for the primary season.

Romney leads GOP candidates in fundraising

On the Republican side, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney far outpaced his rivals for the GOP nomination in terms of fundraising, and also enjoys a slight edge in available cash over his closest financial competitor, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Romney surpassed expectations by raising $21 million in the first quarter, all for his nomination bid. He spent roughly half this amount and had almost $12 million in the bank at the end of March.

Giuliani placed second this quarter in both fundraising and available cash, with almost $14 million raised for the primaries and almost $11 million in the bank. The former Big Apple mayor bolstered his campaign account with a $2 million transfer from his short-lived Senate campaign against Clinton in 2000.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona trailed among the GOP presidential front-runners, raising $13 million in the first quarter, almost all of which was in primary contributions. He reported having just over $5 million in the bank by the end of March.

McCain's campaign manager said in a statement last week they "had hoped to do better" in fundraising, and McCain has since reorganized his fundraising operation. McCain's financial totals this year highlight how the fundraising stakes have increased significantly since his last presidential bid.

McCain's $13 million raised this quarter, though considered disappointing this cycle, would have put him far ahead of the Republican presidential field at this point in 1999. Then-Gov. George W. Bush had raised $7.5 million at this point eight years ago, compared to $1.7 million for McCain.

McCain also took a different approach to fundraising during the run-up to his current White House bid. Clinton, 2004 Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry, and many other senators who have run for president had first built up huge, multimillion-dollar war chests in their senate accounts, which they later transferred to their presidential campaigns.

In contrast, McCain, who marked his 20th anniversary in the Senate this January, started the year with just over $20,000 in his senate account.

Clinton's spending relatively tame

The size of Clinton's war chest also can be attributed to her campaign's relatively tame level of spending. The Clinton campaign spent $5.1 million, or roughly 17.5 percent, of the primary money it raised in the first quarter of the year, a percentage referred to in campaign finance circles as a "burn rate."

Clinton posted the lowest burn rate of all the Democratic and Republican presidential front-runners. Obama and Edwards each spent about a quarter of the money they raised from January through March.

On the whole, the Republican front-runners burned through their first-quarter hauls faster than the Democratic front-runners. Giuliani had the lowest GOP burn rate with almost 37 percent. Romney spent 49 percent of the money he raised for the primaries in the first quarter.

McCain posted the highest burn rate of any of the front-runners of either party, spending more than 64 percent of what he brought in during the first three months of the year.

Romney led the Democratic and Republican fields in terms of money raised over the Internet. According to his campaign, Romney raised $7.7 million through online appeals, far ahead of the nearly $1 million Giuliani raised on the Internet since his fundraising efforts began in December. McCain did not indicate how much of his total was raised on the Internet.

Romney's Internet haul also topped the $6.9 million Obama said he raised online. Clinton raised $4.2 million online in the first quarter, followed by Edwards with $3.3 million.


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New York Sen. Hillary Clinton had the largest war chest after the first quarter of 2007, but Sen. Barack Obama raised more for the primary season.

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