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Obama campaign sets a fund-raising record

Leads Clinton in money race for '08 election

WASHINGTON -- Senator Barack Obama raised $31 million for his presidential primary campaign over the past three months, surging past Senator Hillary Clinton's fund-raising machine by nearly $10 million for the quarter to take the lead in contributions in the crowded Democratic field.

Obama became the first Democrat to surpass $30 million in a quarter during a non election year, a feat his campaign said was accomplished not just with help from wealthy, traditional donors but also with a strong showing among small contributors.

The Illinois senator trails Clinton in most polls, but the favorable performance reported yesterday is expected to increase the pressure on Clinton's team. Obama was able to outrun Clinton, of New York, even after she began turning for fund-raising help to her husband, former President Bill Clinton, the most prolific money-raiser in Democratic history.

Although thrilled by the financial performance, Obama's campaign yesterday sought to temper expectations with a note to supporters predicting that the candidate is unlikely to overtake Clinton in the polls before the Iowa caucuses early next year.

"One of our opponents is also the quasi incumbent in the race, who in our belief will and should lead just about every national poll from now until the Iowa caucuses. Expect nothing different and attach no significance to it," campaign manager David Plouffe wrote.

In addition to Obama's haul for the primary, he collected $1.5 million for the general election, for a total of $32.5 million raised over the past three months.

Clinton's campaign announced late last week that it would raise $27 million to $28 million for the second quarter, but campaign aides said yesterday that slightly more than $21 million was in primary donations.

Clinton took in the most money during the first three months of the campaign and is expected to have about the same amount of money in the bank as Obama when they formally file their second-quarter fund-raising reports later this month . That's because she transferred about $10 million to her presidential bid in leftover money from her Senate campaign.

Among other Democrats, John Edwards, former senator of North Carolina, finished third in the fund-raising race this quarter, meeting his $9 million goal after a last-minute appeal from his wife, Elizabeth , that played off of controversial remarks by conservative television commentator Ann Coulter.

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico was not far behind, raising $7 million for the quarter.

Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut raised $3.25 million for the second quarter, giving him $12.25 million this year.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, told his fund-raising team Friday that its second quarter fell short of the $21 million he raised in the first quarter, leaving an opening for Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor, to take the second-quarter fund-raising lead. Giuliani is expected to announce his numbers today or tomorrow.

Senator John McCain of Arizona was hoping to finish third, with a total of $10 million to $15 million.

Obama's performance was built on the strength of 154,000 new contributors, giving him well over a quarter-million donors since he started the race. The vast majority of Obama's donors gave in relatively small amounts, the campaign said, meaning they can be tapped several more times. The average donation was $202; individual donors can give up to $2,300 under the law.

Although Obama's second-quarter haul set an off-year election mark for Democrats, it fell well short of the best fund-raising tallies ever.

President Bush holds the record for a non election year, collecting $50 million between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2003, when he was running mostly uncontested in the GOP primary.

Senator John F. Kerry holds the record for an election year, collecting $44 million in March 2004 after he had essentially secured the Democratic nomination.