WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama raised at least $25 million so far in 2007, his campaign said on Wednesday, just $1 million shy of the party’s early front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Obama, who has served only two years in the U.S. Senate and eight years in the Illinois state Senate, overcame Clinton’s tremendous fund-raising advantage built up over two Senate campaigns and her husband’s eight years as president.
The wife of former President Bill Clinton shattered previous party fund-raising records reporting $26 million in the first quarter on Sunday.
The surprising strong draw for Obama, who has trailed in some early opinion polls behind his colleague from New York, is a clear signal the race for the Democratic nod is wide open despite predictions of Clinton’s strength.
“This overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country and a belief at the grassroots level that Barack Obama can bring out the best in America to solve our problems,” said Penny Pritzker, the finance chair for Obama’s campaign.
Obama’s campaign said it had more than 100,000 donors and raised $6.9 million over the Internet while Clinton had half as many donors and drew in $4.2 million via the Internet.
Former Sen. John Edwards, another Democrat, reported raising more than $14 million during the first three months of the year, nearly twice what he raised in the first quarter of his failed 2000 presidential bid.
Obama topped all the Republican candidates, who were led by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney who reported on Monday raising $20.6 million.
Democrats and Republicans are racing to show their fund-raising prowess as a sign of broad support despite the fact that the first primary contest is more than nine months away.
Candidates are building up the money war chests to fund operations in the states that hold the first nominating elections early next year as well as to run expensive advertising, and to raise more money.
Another important test is still to come, how much the top candidates have spent already and how much cash they have on hand for the road ahead. That will likely come around April 15 when figures are reported to the Federal Election Commission.