Obama Takes In $32.5M Campaign Haul

It is an eye-popping number: Barack Obama raised more than $32.5 million between April and June — $31 million of which can be used in the primary campaign.

Even more eye-popping is the number of contributors. So far, more than 250,000 people have given to Obama's campaign.

To put that in context, Howard Dean — whose grassroots campaign astonished the pundits — had 280,000 contributors in all of 2003. Obama is almost there after just six months.

Of course, Dean's money and supporters did not ultimately translate into votes. But for Obama, it will likely provide a shot of momentum, making it clear that he is a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"We should be awed by these numbers from Obama, but not awed to the point that we think that this propels him magically to a nomination," said Norman Ornstein, a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. "This takes a guy who has emerged in the last four years, from an unknown to a rock star in American politics, and the momentum and excitement are just extraordinary."

The freshman senator from Illinois has even outraised the vaunted Clinton fundraising machine.

Hillary Clinton's campaign announced they would post around $27 million for the quarter, with roughly $21 million in primary funds. This week, she hits the road with her fundraising weapon-in-chief, former President Bill Clinton.

"Six months ago, no one — no one — would have thought that anyone would have been close to Hillary Clinton, let alone ahead," said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.

Those hefty war chests are setting up a serious &3151; and expensive — fight at the top of the ticket.

Obama is already spending his cash. He started running ads in Iowa last week.

Both he and Clinton will have the resources to compete not only in key early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, but in the flood of big states with primaries scheduled for February 5.

For other presidential hopefuls, the money is not flowing as freely.

Former Sen. John Edwards took in roughly $9 million — some of that money the product of a much publicized spat between the candidate's wife and conservative columnist Ann Coulter.

But when it comes to money and politics, beating expectations matters, too.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's announcement that he had raised $7 million might give a lift to his lower-profile campaign.

"I think we used to have a double layer cake and now, we are moving into the wedding layer cake," said Democratic strategist Jenny Backus. "There's Hillary and Obama on the top. And there's Edwards and Richardson now on the second tier. And then there's the rest of the Democratic candidates."

Candidates don't have to report actual numbers to the Federal Election Commission until July 15.

So far, Republicans have been quieter about their tallies, perhaps because for some of them, the news isn't good.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has said he is likely to post a lower number than the $20 million he raised last quarter.

Sen. John McCain — who's traveling in Iraq this week — also suggested he would not meet his goals, despite a vow to improve on a disappointing first quarter.

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