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Inside Politics

Record millions roll in for Clinton White House bid

Story Highlights

• Clinton posts $36 million in the first quarter of her presidential campaign
• She and other contenders likely to be in the $100 million range for the year
• In 1999, then-Gov. George W. Bush lead the GOP field by raising $7.6 million
• First quarter considered a reliable benchmark of a candidate's viability
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton raised $26 million and transferred an additional $10 million from her Senate war chest to post $36 million in the first quarter of the 2008 fundraising cycle, the New York Democrat's presidential campaign announced Sunday.

"We are completely overwhelmed and gratified by the historic support," Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle told reporters in a conference call Sunday afternoon.

Senior campaign aides noted that Clinton, a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, had raised the $26 million in a 10-week period, but still said their goal for the year remains at $75 million. Political analysts suggest the fundraising figure for Clinton and a handful of other presidential contenders is more likely to be in the $100 million range for the year.

The Clinton aides did not release how much money the New York senator currently has in the bank. Nor did they disclose how much of the $26 million raised can be used in the Democratic primary or how much of it is earmarked for the general election campaign, should Clinton win the party's nomination. Those figures will be released on or about April 15.

The campaign did say that of the $26 million raised, $4.2 million was contributed through the Internet.

The first quarter of the 2008 fundraising cycle is considered by many to be a reliable benchmark to assess a candidate's viability. The quarter closed on Saturday at midnight.

It is likely Clinton will lead the Democratic field in fundraising this quarter, as her finely tuned political machine, honed during her husband's years in the White House, kicked into high gear. Former President Bill Clinton played a high profile role in the senator's presidential campaign in the first 10 weeks by headlining fundraisers and reaching out to key party activists.

Unlike in previous campaigns, candidates now chase money for the general election while working toward a primary bid. The Federal Election Commission has ruled that candidates may still decide to accept public financing for the general election race and return the money raised -- provided that they haven't spent any of it. They cannot have both.

Clinton became the first to take advantage of this opportunity. Even still, her total first quarter haul for the primary alone -- not including money for the general election -- is likely to far outpace what front-runners in either party raised at comparable points in 1999 and 2003.

In 1999, then-Gov. George W. Bush lead the GOP field by raising $7.6 million in the first quarter, while then-Vice President Al Gore led the Democratic field with $8.9 million.

In 2003, Sen. John Edwards raised about $7.4 million in contributions in the first quarter, enough to lead the Democratic field.

Bush did not begin raising money for his re-election bid until a later point.

By early afternoon Sunday, the only other Democrat to release a first quarter fundraising estimate was Sen. Joe Biden. An aide to the Delaware Democrat tells CNN they expect the campaign to post between $3 million and $4 million in the first three months with about $1.9 million of that transferred from his Senate campaign account.

The aide said the campaign thinks Biden, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, can be competitive if he is able to raise $25 million for the primary. Biden is registering in the single digits in national polls.

In the Republican presidential primary, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told CNN he expected to raise $500,000 in the first quarter and show $300,000 in the bank.



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