It's Official: Obama Tops Clinton in Primary Haul

Insurgent presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., raised $24.8 million in primary cash for his campaign -- almost 30 percent more than did frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., with $19.1 million, the candidates' Federal Election Commission documents filed on Sunday evening indicate.

Obama also nearly tied Clinton in total donations, having raised $25.8 million compared to Clinton's $26 million -- an astounding achievement for a political novice going up against such a veteran.

These and other illuminating, cold, hard facts about the campaigns of those contending to be the 44th president of the United States were revealed this weekend as campaigns posted their first quarterly reports with the FEC.

Among the other headlines:

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH -- Self-described fiscal conservative Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., spent 64 percent of what he took in, and assumed a stunning amount (to the tune of $1.8 million) of debt.

BIG MAMA'S WHITE HOUSE? -- Clinton, who transferred $10 million from her 2006 Senate reelection campaign account to her presidential coffers, is large and in charge when it comes to cash on hand, with $24 million at her disposal right now. Clinton has also more overall cash, with $31 million, including $6.9 million she cannot spend unless she wins the nomination.

HOME AIN'T WHERE THE CASH IS -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who hopes to be the first Mormon elected president, received more donations from Utah, $2.8 million, than from the state he used to govern, whose residents gave him $2.3 million.

AS DEEP, AND NARROW, AS MANHATTAN ISLAND -- Rudy Giuiani, the former mayor of New York, raised $14 million, but it came from fewer donors than any other major candidate, indicating access to big-money donors but not widespread support.

DEMOCRATIC WINDS -- Leading up to an election year anticipated to be one of difficulty for the GOP, the Democratic presidential candidates raised $27 million more than their Republican counterparts.


The FEC reports revealed much more than wonky numbers: They tell a great deal about the campaigns.

Perhaps even more than the plethora of public polls, for example, the first quarter filings demonstrate just how difficult it will be for some of the other presidential hopefuls to compete with the big boys and girl in the field. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, reported having $163,887 in the bank as of March 31 and former Gov. Tommy Thompson, R-Wis., reported having slightly less than that with $139,723.

Some other lessons:

1) "BURN RATE" -- One of the key indicators of whether or not a campaign is being managed efficiently is the "burn rate" -- the percentage of the money raised that the campaign spent during the same time period.

McCain is the big loser in this category. His campaign hemorrhaged money by spending 64 percent of what it raised in the first quarter. Romney spent roughly half of what he collected -- including nearly $2 million on introductory television ads in key early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Giuliani displayed the most spending restraint among the top three GOP contenders by only spending about 37 percent of what he raised.

Democrats -- historically tagged as the "big spenders" -- are clearly are watching their spending, comparatively. Clinton's burn rate was 26 percent, Edwards' was 24 percent, and Obama's was 27 percent.

Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson may have come up with the most clever way to keep his burn rate below 20 percent -- his campaign manager, Dave Contarino, is a volunteer who does not draw a salary from the campaign. That's a somewhat different approach than the roughly $240,000 annual salary Rudy Giuliani pays to his campaign manager, Mike DuHaime.

It can also be telling to see what these campaigns have spent money on. Clinton's campaign, eagerly competing with Obama for the endorsement of Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. -- the House majority whip and a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus -- has donated $4,000 to Clyburn's reelection committee.

2) CASH ON HAND -- The bottom line matters. Although it is important to look at how much each candidate has raised as a measure of a campaign's strength and support, the amount of cash each candidate has in the bank affects a campaign's strategy going forward.

Clinton's transfer of $10 million from her Senate campaign account dramatically boosted the money available to her and her team heading into the second quarter of the year and has her sitting atop the entire field with more than $24 million. Obama trails her respectably but considerably, with $18.2 million cash on hand, followed by Romney with $11.8 million.

On the other side of the coin, McCain has only $5.18 million in cash on hand, about the same amount as second-tier candidate Richardson and, remarkably, $1.3 million less than his friend Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., a long shot candidate who chairs the Senate Banking Committee.

3) NUMBER OF DONORS -- Beyond the millions of dollars amassed by the leading candidates is an important indication of just how broad that support is.

Obama brought in roughly $25 million -- just $4 million more than Mitt Romney. But Obama had more than triple the number of donors -- 104,000 contributors for Obama versus Romney's 32,000.

McCain's one bright spot on the GOP side is that he can boast of significantly more donors -- roughly 50,000 people contributed to his campaign -- than his Republican rivals, perhaps indicating a broader base of support.

Clinton also had roughly 60,000 donors and Edwards had north of 40,000. Rudy Giuliani rounds out the Big 6 candidates with the most narrow network of support, having received cash from approximately 28,000 people.

4) THE INTERNET -- The cheapest and easiest way for a campaign to raise money and reach potential supporters is by having them click on to the campaign Web site and donate online.

Obama scored the most Internet money by raising $6.9 million online in the first quarter. Romney did better than any of his GOP competitors in harnessing the Internet as a fundraising tool by raising $3.3 million through its Web site and an additional $3.8 million through "Quick ComMitt" -- the campaign's online fundraising mechanism.

5) SECOND-TIER DEMOCRATS -- The intensity of the wind at Democratic backs in this first quarter is apparent by taking a look at the campaign war chests of the so-called second-tier competitors.

No Republican candidate outside of the Big 3 (Romney, Giuliani and McCain) has more than $1 million in cash on hand as of March 31.

Not so for the Democrats. Dodd ($6.4 million), Richardson ($5 million), and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., ($2.5 million) all posted significant cash on hand totals despite the many millions being sent to Clinton, Obama and Edwards.

Who Gave?

There are conflicts and disagreements buried in those dry FEC reports -- juicy details abound about friends, colleagues, and family members squaring off in rival campaigns.

Past donors to President Bill Clinton have defected from the family, raising money for Obama and raising Democratic eyebrows. These include Hollywood moguls David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, as well as longtime Democratic donors such as Peter Buttenwieser, an heir to the Lehman Brothers securities fortune, and Orin Kramer, general partner of Boston Provident Partners LP in New York.

And what are we to glean from the examples of those behind NBC's "Saturday Night Live"? Old-school star Chevy Chase gave $4,600 to Clinton. Eddie Murphy kicked in $2,300 to Obama. Adam Sandler gave $2,100 to Giuliani. And their former boss, SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, dished out $1,000 to McCain.

Likewise, are the legendary rivalries among the Pritzker clan evident in the fact that Hyatt hotel heiress Penny Pritzker is Obama's national finance chair, but her relatives Thomas, Margot and James Pritzker have given money to McCain?

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., gave the maximum primary donation, $2,300, to McCain while his father, Jon Huntsman Sr., gave the same amount to Romney.

The woman who preceded Romney as governor of Massachusetts, Jane Swift, and who was summarily handed her hat and shown the door by GOP officials once Romney started considering a run, gave money to McCain as well.

Conversely, some donors hedged their bets and gave to more than one candidate. Hollywood mogul David Geffen gave to Obama and Edwards. Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser for former President George H.W. Bush, gave to both McCain and Romney.

Obama's Good News; McCain's Bad

Former President Clinton is one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party; he and his wife are inarguably the definition of a power couple. On the national stage for more than 15 years, the two were called upon to help raise money for Democratic candidates quite a bit during the 2006 election -- even though Sen. Clinton had her own, however uncompetitive, re-election campaign to worry about.

That Obama, only in national office since 2004, a self-described "skinny guy with a funny name," could come within a hair of matching Clinton's overall figure raised and thump her on primary cash sent nothing short of shockwaves throughout the political world.

The achievement is all the more impressive when one considers that, unlike Clinton, Obama accepts no donations from registered lobbyists or political action committees. On Friday, as Obama's campaign checked its 104,000 donors against the database of federal lobbyists, it found cash from 49 lobbyists, totaling more than $50,000, which the campaign returned.

Conversely, with a burn rate a rival campaign official called "mind boggling," McCain -- who has had a presidential political and fundraising operation for much of the last decade -- had the most disappointing quarter.

The Arizona senator not only came in sixth in fundraising among the six major candidates, with $13 million, his FEC report indicates his campaign had spent $8.38 million, about 64 percent of what it raised.

Not even factoring in the campaign's nearly $2 million in outstanding debts, McCain begins this next, increasingly competitive quarter of the presidential race with only $5.18 million in cash on hand, far below his two closest rivals for the Republican nomination.

Romney has more than twice as much primary cash on hand as McCain -- $11.8 million -- and Giuliani has about $10.8 million available to him in the primaries. And while McCain has $1.8 million in outstanding debt, Giuliani owes $88,862. (Romney has more than $2 million in debt, but it's cash he himself loaned his campaign at its genesis, which he may or may not ever repay.)

McCain has acknowledged "disappointing" fundraising, and campaign officials say they have taken steps to correct the problem. They say they are pleased with the direction the fundraising is going -- they raised $2 million in January, $3 million in February, and $8 million in March of this year.

And McCain campaign insiders also note that former Rep. Tom Loeffler, R-Texas, is now on board and brought the national finance chairs together for a meeting this week and explained to them that the campaign is now installing high levels of accountability in its fundraising structure.

"Obviously, we would have liked to have raised more money," McCain said at a press conference in Arizona on Monday. "We'll try and do better next time."

John Berman and Matt Stuart covering the Romney campaign, Kate Snow covering the Clinton campaign, David Muir covering the Edwards campaign, and Bret Hovell covering the McCain campaign contributed to this story.