Obama gets $7 million since Super Tuesday

February 7, 2008 3:13:39 PM PST
Democrat Barack Obama raised $7.2 million and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton collected $6.4 million since Super Tuesday, as he continued to resist a Clinton campaign clamoring for attention-getting debates. The remarkable outpouring of contributions recorded since Tuesday's contests in 22 states comes on the heels of an eye-popping $32 million raised by Obama in January and the record-shattering $100 million each Obama and Clinton raised in 2007 in their neck-and-neck race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Obama has been riding a wave of fundraising from large donors and small Internet contributors. While not matching Obama's pace, Clinton also saw an online surge of donations from 35,000 new contributors since midnight Tuesday, Clinton campaign aides said.

Campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe told reporters in a conference call Thursday that these donations totaled $6.4 million.

In a sign of Clinton's increasing concern about Obama's growing strength, her campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, sent a letter Thursday to the Obama campaign seeking five debates between the two candidates before March 4.

"I'm sure we can find a suitable place to meet on the campaign trail," Solis Doyle wrote. "There's too much at stake and the issues facing the country are too grave to deny voters the opportunity to see the candidates up close."

Obama rejected a debate proposed as soon as this Sunday to be broadcast on ABC. Talking with reporters aboard his campaign plane Thursday, he declined to say when or how often he will debate Clinton. "I've got to spend time with voters," he said, because Clinton "is better known in a lot of these states." But he added, "We'll have some debates."

Clinton acknowledged Wednesday that she loaned her campaign $5 million late last month as Obama was outraising and outspending her heading into the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday contests. Some senior staffers on her campaign offered to voluntarily forgo paychecks as the campaign heads into the next round of contests, but Clinton aides said Thursday the offers were declined and all salaries would be paid.

Asked about Clinton's personal loan, Obama told reporters, "I think there is no doubt that she has not generated the kind of grass-roots enthusiasm that we have. It's not for lack of trying, and she's got a former president actively fundraising for her, as well as people like Terry McAuliffe."

Clinton said the loan and salary offers were not a sign of financial difficulties.

"No, not at all," Clinton told ABC News in an interview Thursday. "We were outraised in January, which we took steps immediately to address, and I think the results on Super Tuesday showed that we were more than competitive. Since Tuesday we've raised millions of dollars on the Internet, so we're going to be fine.

"And my staff is so dedicated that they stepped up and said, 'Look, this is so important we're going to do our part.' I did my part. So we're going to be in very good financial shape. People are rallying around, and I think by the end of the week we'll be back on track."

Clinton's national finance co-chairman Alan Patricof said Tuesday that fundraisers were targeting many thousands of potential high donors nationally who had not yet given the maximum donation of $2,300 to spend in the primary season.

He also said Clinton planned to return to New York before the end of February to attend a major fundraising gala there.

"We are feeling very positive about the outcome Super Tuesday, and we're attracting a lot of new people who want to contribute.

But we know we have to raise a lot of money to be competitive," he said.

Thursday afternoon, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he would endorse Obama during a rally later in the day in Omaha, Neb.

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 hopes to win primaries in the Mid-Atlantic next week and Hawaii and Wisconsin the following week.

He campaigned in Louisiana Thursday morning, vowing to help New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina by improving levees, schools and health care, and closely overseeing the Federal Emergency Management Agency if he becomes president. The state holds its contest Saturday.

Obama accused President Bush of failing to do enough to help the Gulf Coast recover from the devastating storm of August 2005. He proposed a multi-faceted program for the area, but did not indicate its total cost or how he would pay for it.

His proposal would help New Orleans hire police officers, repair schools and improve public transit. It would provide financial incentives to attract teachers, businesses and medical professionals.

"When I am president," Obama told about 4,000 people in Tulane University's basketball arena, "we will finish building a system of levees that can withstand a 100-year storm by 2011, with the goal of expanding that protection to defend against a Category 5 storm."

Clinton, with less money to spend and less confident of her prospects in the February contests, plans to 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 large elderly population there will favor the former first lady.