WASHINGTON – In a remarkable financial recovery, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton raised $35 million in February even as Democratic rival Barack Obama was outspending her in key March 4 battlegrounds.
His financial superiority has been evident in the primary states of Texas and Ohio, which vote Tuesday and where he has purchased $7.5 million in advertising to her $4.6 million.
Clinton’s fundraising more than doubled her January fundraising, when she collected $14 million to Obama’s $36 million. Clinton has lost 11 straight contests since Super Tuesday on Feb. 5 and her ability to raise money was all the more notable coming in the midst of defeat.
“It was incredibly gratifying to see people come forth with this vote of confidence in me,” Clinton told reporters in Hanging Rock, Ohio. “Obviously this is a tremendous benefit to my campaign.”
But Obama has been raising money at a greater rate and spending it, too. Some estimates place his February fundraising at more than $50 million, which would be about half of what he raised in all of 2007. Obama spokesman Bill Burton would not divulge a total: “We’ve raised considerably more than” Clinton.
Obama’s campaign had spent $2.4 million on ads in Ohio as of Tuesday, to her $1.3 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ads. Clinton spent $3.3 million in Texas; Obama spent $5.1 million.
Clinton began running a new ad in Ohio on Thursday, with Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland promoting her as a “fighter.” “I think she’s a person who has devoted her life to caring about other people, making sure that America works for everyone, not just the privileged few,” Strickland says in the ad.
Obama is targeting younger audiences in his ads, buying expensive prime time spots on programs such as “American Idol” and evening sitcoms. On Tuesday, for instance, Obama bought 38 spots on “American Idol” broadcasts in Ohio and Texas, and in the two other March 4 primary states – Rhode Island and Vermont. Clinton bought only six spots on the show in relatively small markets. “She’s where most of the traditional political buying is,” said Evan Tracey, an ad analyst and president of TNS Media. “He is in the choice real estate – it’s the luxury end of political buying.”
Obama also was getting help from labor unions, even though in the past he has criticized rivals who received help from outside groups.
The Service Employees International Union began spending $1.4 million on ads supporting Obama in Ohio and Texas. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union was spending nearly $200,000 on ads in Ohio. What’s more, the SEIU was spending a total of about $1.4 million supporting Obama through phone banks and door-to-door canvassing in Texas and Ohio.
“We are facing a real wall of money from the Barack Obama campaign,” senior Clinton adviser Harold Ickes acknowledged in a call with fundraisers Thursday. “But based on everything we know today, we are confident we have very strong operations there.”
Former President Clinton, campaigning for his wife at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., said: “If she can win a big victory here in Rhode Island, win in Ohio, win in Texas, she’ll be on her way to the White House.”
He also said: “We’ve had a great life. She’s going to be fine regardless.”
Clinton entered February with $9 million cash on hand for the primaries and about $7.5 million in debts. Obama had $18 million for the primary and $1.1 million in debts.