In a conference call with financial supporters this morning, the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., announced that it had raised an eye-popping $25 million, with almost all of it -- $23.5 million -- raised for use during the Democratic primaries and caucuses.
The announcement puts him within striking distance of the total raised by his more experienced rival, front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who reported raising $26 million in this first quarter.
More significantly it likely puts him at an advantage over Clinton when it comes to money raised for use in the primaries. Clinton's campaign has not provided the media with the breakdown of how much of its $26 million has been cordoned off from its use unless she wins the Democratic primary nomination.
"We won't know what Hillary Clinton's primary number is maybe for a couple of weeks," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said on the call. "It would be shocking if we had not just surpassed her but with some margin."
"Let's go get 'em," said Obama national finance chair Penny Pritzker, who started the call by telling supporters the staggering statistics. "It is a very exciting day for all of us."
The figure -- stunning for any politician, and all the more so for one so new to the political scene -- seemed to indicate that there was something potentially unique about Obama's candidacy, as he outraised many more experienced, older politicians.
After the first financial quarter ended Saturday night, former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced that he had raised $21 million, all of it for use in the primaries. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani raised $15 million; Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., said he had raised $14 million; and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, said he had raised a disappointing $12.5 million.
Some other figures of note:
Obama received donations from more than 100,000 donors, far surpassing any other candidate, including Clinton (50,000), McCain (45,000), Edwards (40,000) or Romney (32,000)
$6.9 million of Obama's donations came from more than 50,000 donors via the Internet, far surpassing any of his rivals
90 percent of Obama's donations were small donations of $100 or less
The fundraising, Plouffe said, would help the Obama campaign compete in the early primary and caucus states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as in the mass of large states holding primaries on Feb. 5 -- such as Florida, New Jersey and California -- in what has come to be called "Super Duper Tuesday."
"There's a good chance we'll have financial parity [with Clinton] in these Feb. 5 states," Plouffe said. "We have to capitalize on [this]."
Noting that Obama had attracted twice as many donors as Clinton, Plouffe called today's announcement an "explosive kindling we need to ignite."
The accomplishment is all the more impressive considering Obama's refusal to take donations from political action committees or people registered as lobbyists.