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2008 hopefuls scramble for cash as deadline looms

Story Highlights

• Candidates make mad dash for cash inside of Saturday night's deadline
• Early fundraising is a major indicator of candidate performance
• McCain is among most closely watched in GOP race after placing third last quarter
• Fundraising rivalry continues between Clinton and Obama
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With a Saturday night deadline for second-quarter fundraising ahead, presidential candidates from both major parties are scrambling to rake in the cash before the clock runs out.

On Wednesday alone, five of the presidential hopefuls were out on the trail, attending campaign fundraising events.

Though the first votes of the 2008 campaign won't be cast until January, early fundraising is a major indicator of candidate performance. And among the most closely watched contenders this time is John McCain, who placed third among GOP hopefuls in the first quarter.

McCain, the senator from Arizona who's mounting his second presidential bid, blamed himself for collecting a mere $12.5 million in the first three months of 2007.

But earlier this month he sounded an optimistic note.

"We're doing better in fundraising this period, and we'll be reporting some improvement," he said during a June 11 appearance in California. But last week, he told The New York Times that his financial efforts have been "very tough," adding, "We weren't going to win this campaign on money anyway."

Today McCain was fundraising in New York City.

Also fishing for campaign cash in New York City today is Mitt Romney.

The former Massachusetts Governor, who topped his Republican rivals with nearly $21 million in the first quarter, tried to talk down expectations for the current term at a fundraiser in Boston on Monday and said he would contribute money to his campaign from his personal assets -- estimated to top $190 million.

"It would be nice not to have to loan or contribute to your campaign," he said. "But the reality is, if you want to have a strong campaign that gets out there and can talk across the nation, you're going to have to do what's necessary." On the Democratic side, the rivalry to watch is between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner in the early polls, and Sen. Barack Obama -- who beat former the first lady in collections for the primaries during the first quarter.

Clinton raised $19 million from contributors in the first three months of the year for her nomination bid, compared with $24.8 million for Obama. But with $7 million earmarked for a possible general-election race and another $10 million transferred from her Senate campaign chest, the New York senator topped her Illinois rival by about $11 million.

Last night Clinton attended a Wall Street fundraiser. The event, which included a major appearance by billionaire financier Warren Buffet, added an estimated one million dollars to Clinton's campaign coffers. While Buffet has not endorsed Clinton, he praised her, as he has Obama, and New York City Major Mike Bloomberg, who denies he's interested in making an independent run for the Presidency.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is fundraising today in Texas. The 2004 Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee has said he doesn't expect to match the $13 million he raked in last quarter.

Nipping at Edwards heels is Bill Richardson. The New Mexico Governor thinks he may be able to beat out Edwards for third place in the battle for campaign cash in the second quarter. Richardson was fundraising today in Boston.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Sen. Hillary Clinton raised more than $1 million at a fundraiser Tuesday night headlined by Warren Buffet.



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