LOS ANGELES – Barack Obama raised $32 million in campaign contributions in January, a record sum that will carry him well beyond next week’s Super Tuesday primaries in what is shaping into a protracted nomination battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Obama’s haul was the most raised by any candidate in one month in this presidential campaign. John Kerry raised more – $44 million – in March 2004, but he already had secured the nomination.
“For a candidate who had no guarantee of getting past Super Tuesday to have raised $32 million in a single month is astounding,” said Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington nonprofit group that tracks money in politics. “It gives Obama tremendous firepower going into Super Tuesday and beyond.”
Obama and Clinton will compete in 22 states holding Democratic primaries or caucuses Tuesday, the largest number on one day in history.
With John Edwards out of the race, Clinton and Obama are in a race for delegates to secure the nomination. Feb. 5 offers the biggest single opportunity for delegates, but it can’t seal the nomination.
In an e-mail to supporters Wednesday evening, the Obama campaign said it had attracted 224,000 new donors in January for a total of more than 700,000 overall. The $32 million raised in one month matches the campaign’s best three-month fundraising period in 2007.
The funds will finance television and radio ads in 20 Super Tuesday states – nearly double the number airing Clinton spots – as well as in seven states holding primaries in mid-February, said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.
“Obviously this contest could go on for some time,” Plouffe said ” … We think we’re going to have the resources to conduct vigorous campaigns.”
The Clinton campaign has not released its January fundraising figure, raising assumptions that it hadn’t matched Obama. It sought to minimize Obama’s jackpot, saying votes and delegates matter most.
“We have all the resources we need to compete and win in this contest,” spokesman Blake Zeff said. He noted that polls show Clinton leading in most Super Tuesday states, especially those with many delegates.
But some polls show Obama narrowing the gap. His aides contend his main disadvantage is name recognition, which ads might help.
The funds Obama raised were just for primaries, meaning he could seek more money from his January donors for the general election. Much of Clinton’s campaign war chest can only be used for the November vote, increasing her need to find new donors, Ritsch said.