Obama fundraising drive falters
The Democrat received just $1 million more than McCain in May
WASHINGTON » Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., raised $22 million in May for his presidential campaign, his weakest fundraising month this year, and ended the month with $43 million cash on hand, while former rival Hillary Rodham Clinton sank deeper in debt.
Obama, who has been the fundraising leader throughout the presidential contest, entered June on virtually the same financial footing as Republican rival John McCain - a level of parity that would have been unimaginable just a few months ago.
Details of the candidates' May fundraising, filed yesterday in reports to the Federal Election Commission, came a day after Obama announced he would become the first major-party candidate to forgo public financing in the general election. McCain, R-Ariz., has said he will accept the public funds, which will limit him to spending about $85 million from September until Election Day in November.
McCain raised $21 million in May and ended the month with $31.6 million in the bank. Of Obama's cash on hand, $10 million is available only for the general election, leaving him with about $33 million to use between now and the party conventions in late summer. Obama reported debts of $304,000; McCain had debts of $1.3 million.
Obama's decision to forgo public funds permits him to use leftover primary money in the general election. McCain cannot.
Clinton, D-N.Y., who bowed out of the Democratic contest on June 7, reported a $22.5 million debt at the end of May, more than half of which came from personal loans to her presidential campaign. The former first lady lent her campaign nearly $2.2 million during the month, bringing her total personal investment in the campaign to $12.175 million. She had $3.4 million cash on hand left for primary spending. She also had more than $23 million for the general election, money her campaign cannot use to pay off her debts.
Clinton campaigned actively through the last Democratic primaries on June 3 before succumbing to Obama and is expected to have even greater debt at the end of this month. In a call to donors on Thursday, she said she would concentrate on paying off money owed to vendors, not her personal loans.
Obama reported spending $26.6 million in May. His heaviest spending was on advertising - he shelled out more than $4 million buying time for television commercials. Clinton reported total disbursements of $19.2 million for the month.
The two Democrats traded primary victories during the month, but Obama continued to build his delegate advantage. He secured the nomination June 3.
Obama's decision to forgo public money in the general election gives greater significance to his efforts to capitalize on Clinton's support for the general election. Her donors would be a rich vein to tap.
First, however, Clinton needs substantial help retiring her debt. Many of her loyal donors have already contributed the maximum to her campaign, so she needs some new sources of money. That is where Obama comes in - his donors help her out, her donors help him.