Hillary Rodham Clinton’s financial troubles returned to the forefront of the Democrats’ White House marathon on Thursday as Barack Obama reported raising $40 million last month – double what the New York senator collected.
Clinton’s $20 million take would be staggering in any other race. But she faces a rival who has shattered fundraising records, and this latest benchmark highlights Clinton’s broader difficulties in catching up to Sen. Obama of Illinois in the protracted Democratic nomination fight.
She has reported millions in debts and unpaid bills. Drawing mainly on earnings from her best-seller, “Living History,” she has lent her campaign $5 million to keep it from going broke. She cannot come close to matching Obama in spending on TV ads and mailers in contests over the next two months in eight more states, along with Guam and Puerto Rico.
Clinton, who wrapped up a 24-hour California fundraising jaunt Thursday with stops in San Francisco, Pasadena and Beverly Hills, faces further strains in meeting day-to-day expenses – everything from charter planes and buses to stage equipment for campaign rallies.
“It’s stunningly expensive,” said Jim Jordan, who ran Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign for part of the 2004 primary season. “It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars a day.”
For all that, Clinton’s lag in fundraising is unlikely to drive her from the race, analysts say. But it is making her climb to the nomination that much tougher.
For starters, it can deter potential donors from giving her money by creating the impression that her campaign is a lost cause.
It also bolsters Obama’s argument to superdelegates – the party and elected officials likely to settle the nomination – that he would raise more than Clinton would for the general-election battle against Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee-in-waiting.
So far, Obama has swept in $230 million. Clinton has raked in $190 million.
McCain, who faces a dismal fundraising climate for Republicans, has had far less success. While he has not yet reported numbers for March, he had raised $60 million by the end of February.