As the second-quarter dash for cash enters its final week, the 2008 presidential hopefuls are asking donors big and small to open their wallets and show them the money.
The second-quarter fundraising totals, due to the Federal Election Commission by June 30, are widely regarded as a gauge of candidate electability. Political analysts say the 2008 election campaign will be the most expensive in U.S. history.
"Candidates are raising more money than ever before," said Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks candidates' fundraising money on its Web site www.opensecrets.org.
"The signals from the top-tier candidates are that they for the first time are not going to take public funding for either the primary or the general, so these factors all lead up to the fact that this will be a far more expensive election campaign than those of the past," said Krumholz.
Opting out of public funding became status quo in 2004. During that race, both President Bush and Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry made the decision to forgo public funds made available by the FEC in order to bypass spending limits, believing they could raise more on their own.
With a wide-open field, no incumbent in the race and an historic slate of candidates, strategists argue the money race has become something of a crystal ball when it comes to who will emerge victorious in November 2008.
The candidates are becoming increasingly creative in the ways they appeal to fundraisers for money.
Looking to continue his reign as the Republicans' fundraising king, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has rented out Fenway Park this Sunday for a fundraising barbecue. Three hundred supporters will be given a tour of the ballpark and take part in a cookout.
"It's a unique way to get people to come and fundraise ... folks will get to visit these national landmarks while helping Mitt," said Romney spokesperson Kevin Madden.
Continuing with the sports theme, on Monday the Romney campaign set up a phone bank for supporters to Dial for Dollars at TD Banknorth Garden, the Boston sports and entertainment arena that's the home to the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins.
Romney kicked off his '08 bid in January with a similar event at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center where fundraisers worked the phones on a National Call Day raising $6.5 million.
The large one-day sum helped propel Romney to raise over $20 million last quarter, far more than any of his GOP rivals.
The close of the second-quarter tests whether the campaign of Republican contender Sen. John McCain can get its fundraising operation back on track after finishing third in the first three months behind former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
There is once again an intense battle brewing for first-place honors in the Democratic field between Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
While Clinton had more cash on hand during the first quarter, Obama outraised her.
As the second quarter nears to a close, Clinton's camp has been employing a frequently used campaign strategy by downplaying fundraising expectations and suggesting Obama will beat Clinton's totals.
In the final push to next week's deadline, Obama and Clinton have scheduled dueling fundraisers in Chicago Monday just a few blocks away from each other.