Obama's quest to turn money into votes

10:12 AM, Jul 3, 2007   |    comments
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In your typical presidential money race, raising $21 million in three months would be an incredible feat. Especially if we're talking about the second quarter the year prior to the election. Last quarter $21 million was enough to earn Hillary Clinton only second place in the dialing for dollars game; a distant second at that. Senator Barack Obama set a new pace for fundraising in the second quarter, at $31 million, proving that his star is still rising among Democrats six months before the first crucial caucuses in Iowa. The fact Obama's money came from 250,000 individual donors also points to a ground-up strategy that has energized new voters, many of whom crowded into the International Market Square in Minneapolis last Friday for his official Minnesota campaign kickoff. "He's rapidly building a strong grassroots base," Hamline University's Dave Schultz told KARE 11. "Which is what he needs for the primaries, getting the vote out and for the general election." In a typical money race, a year before the election, $21 million in a quarter would be worth celebrating. So Senator Clinton's campaign isn't exactly throwing in the towel. "She's still raising amounts of money that by any other previous standard would be considered phenomenal," Schultz said. Same goes for John Edwards, who took in $9 million during the three-month period ending June 30th. And while he trails Obama and Clinton in the national polls, Schultz says he's well organized in key early primary states including Iowa. "That sort of gives you the springboard into New Hampshire and other states, and he's also doing exceedingly well in South Carolina another very early state." And despite the Obama buzz he still trails Hillary Clinton in most polls among Democrats. And Clinton has much of her husband's original fundraising network still intact, which could be crucial in the home stretch. Although it's still very early in the process we asked Obama supporters at his Minneapolis rally whether they could support Clinton if it comes down to that. "I'd be excited about an Obama-Clinton ticket," said Lou Klitzke of North Oaks. "I'm not sure which one should be on top, but it would definitely mean a change one way or the other." On that point Lou differed from wife Liz, who said she couldn't vote for Hillary Clinton. "I won't vote for her," Liz told KARE 11. "I'm not sure she's real. I don't think she's the sort of person I could go up walk to and talk to. I could do that with Barack, it seems." Lou retorted, "Come on, you'll come around." Her response was consistent with some polls, according to Schultz, which show Clinton not doing well among older, more educated women. "Senator Clinton can not necessarily count on the female vote, especially when we know that women who are more affluent, better educated are more likely to vote." Schultz also notes that in most hypothetical head-to-head match-ups witn leading Republicans, the poll results show Barack Obama doing better than Clinton. "Her negatives are the highest among major candidates, the only one that a majority say they won't support -- 52% in a recent survey." Schultz says Hillary Clinton's campaign in the next year will have to address those negative polling numbers. The same weekend Obama's appearance created dynamic media images, the Clinton campaign in Minnesota released an updated list of endorsements. The names included former Senator Mark Dayton, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, financier Vance Opperman and Bill Pohlad. The only Republican to release a second quarter finance report as of Monday afternoon was John McCain who came in at $11 million. However, the same report put his cash-on-hand total at $2 million. And, during the same news conference, McCain's campaign revealed the layoffs of 50 staff members.

By John Croman, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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