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Money challenges some candidates in next wave

February 6, 2008 6:18:59 PM PST
Super Tuesday's mixed outcome has set up at least four weeks of frenzied delegate hunting for Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, pitting his well-financed all-terrain campaign against her big-state strategy. In a sign of Obama's growing financial advantage, Clinton acknowledged Wednesday that she loaned her campaign $5 million late last month as Obama was outraising and outspending her heading into Feb. 5 Super Tuesday contests. Some senior staffers on her campaign also are voluntarily forgoing paychecks as the campaign heads into the next round of contests.

Buoyed by strong fundraising and a primary calendar in February that plays to his strengths, Obama plans a campaign blitz through a series of states holding contests this weekend and will compete to win primaries in the Mid-Atlantic next week and Hawaii and Wisconsin the following week.

Clinton, with less money to spend and less confident of her prospects in the February contests, will instead concentrate on Ohio and Texas, large states with primaries March 4 and where polling shows her with a significant lead. She even is looking ahead to Pennsylvania's primary April 22, believing a largely elderly population there will favor the former first lady.

Clinton's personal loan illustrated her financial disadvantage and her desire to pick her targets with care. She sent an e-mail appeal to donors Wednesday seeking $3 million in three days - an effort, that if successful, would match the fundraising rate Obama averaged for the entire month of January.

"I loaned it because I believe very strongly in this campaign," Clinton told reporters Wednesday. "We had a great month fundraising in January, broke all records, but my opponent was able to raise more money and we intended to be competitive and we were."

"And I think the results last night proved the wisdom of my investment."

Both campaigns claimed bragging rights for their Super Tuesday successes Wednesday while acknowledging it could be weeks or even months until either candidate has amassed enough delegates to win the party's nomination.

Obama won 13 Super Tuesday states while Clinton picked up eight and American Samoa, with New Mexico left to be decided. Both camps claimed a small delegate lead, but an analysis by The Associated Press indicates there were still many to be counted.

"We are going to try and contest every contest, and win as many delegates we can," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said. "If you look at the next month, we have a lot of confidence that we will hold the pledged delegate lead."

Obama, riding a wave of fundraising both from large donors and small Internet contributors, raised a stunning $32 million in January. Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said last week the Clinton campaign raised only $13.5 million for the month. The $5 million loan was in addition to that amount, Wolfson said.

Clinton advisers were stunned by Obama's January fundraising and have marveled at his ability to raise small-dollar amounts from a vast field of donors.

"We will have funds to compete," chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn said, "but we're likely to be outspent again."

The Clinton camp was eager to take the luster off of Obama's status as a "movement candidate" who has generated unprecedented activism and fundraising through the Internet. Clinton strategists went out of their way to label him an "establishment candidate" and worked to pitch her message to online activists.

Obama was heading late Wednesday to Louisiana, where he is favored to win the state's primary Saturday largely on his strength among black voters. He also planned to campaign in Nebraska and Washington state, which also hold contests that day.

Clinton was being more circumspect. She planned to campaign Thursday in Virginia, which holds its primary next Tuesday along with neighbors Maryland and the District of Columbia. She was also headed to Maine, which holds precinct caucuses Sunday.

Penn conceded the campaign would rely on surrogates to campaign for her in most of the states with contests Saturday, including former President Clinton and daughter Chelsea. It was a tacit admission that the former first lady was unlikely to win any of those states outright.

Privately, her strategists also have largely written off her chances of winning the so-called Potomac primary Feb. 9, given the large black populations in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. They also played down her chances in the following week's major primaries - Hawaii, where Obama grew up, and Wisconsin, which has virtually sealed the nomination for other Democrats in years past.

Wisconsin's Democratic electorate is largely liberal and college educated, and its open primary allows independents to vote - all factors that favor Obama.

Clinton political director Guy Cecil insisted the campaign was competing hard in all those places. The campaign has paid staff in Wisconsin and has developed a strong grass-roots organization there.

The campaign, however, clearly was focused on the March 4 contests in Ohio and Texas, both of them offering a trove of delegates. But both states have several media markets, making advertising an expensive proposition. A statewide race in Texas can cost $1 million a week in advertising.

Cecil identified Texas as a top priority. "We think it is a linchpin in our nomination to the presidency," he said.

While Clinton was focusing on Ohio and Texas, her organized supporters were weighing in for her in upcoming state contests. The American Federation of Teachers was going up with radio ads promoting her in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. They also planned a two-week placement of radio ads in Wisconsin, which holds its primary Feb. 19.

Clinton faces significant fundraising obstacles ahead, raising the possibility that she might have to dip into the family's wealth again. The Clinton's financial disclosures, which reveal only broad ranges of assets, place their wealth between $10 million to $50 million.

Campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said the loan came from Sen. Clinton's "share of their joint resources."

An analysis by the Campaign Finance Institute, which tracks trends in political money, found that Obama raised about a third of his money in 2007 from donors who gave $200 or less. Only one-third of his money came from donors who have given the legal maximum of $2,300, compared to Clinton. She has raised about half of her money from "maxed out" donors and only 14 percent from donors of $200 or less.


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