Obama pulls even with Clinton in White House race

Presidential hopeful and U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in Chicago, April 23, 2007. REUTERS/John Gress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - On the heels of a burst of successful fund-raising, Democratic 2008 presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama has pulled even with frontrunner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a new poll released on Monday found.

Obama, a firs-term senator from Illinois, has steadily gained on Clinton, a veteran on the national political scene, over the last month and each now polled 32 percent among likely Democratic voters, the survey by Rasmussen Reports found. Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina was third in the poll with 17 percent.

In late March, New York’s Clinton held a 12-point lead over Illinois’ Obama in the Rasmussen poll.

The survey was the latest sign the former first lady, who now represents New York in the Senate, will have a tough fight ahead to win the Democratic nomination. Obama, who has served two years in the U.S. Senate, earlier this month revealed he raised $25.8 million in the first quarter of 2007, nearly matching the $26 million she raised.

In Chicago on Monday, Obama outlined a foreign policy agenda he said would double U.S. foreign aid to improve living conditions around the world and reduce the appeal of terrorism.

Obama also said the 2008 election will give the United States a chance to change the world’s view of America.

“Many around the world are disappointed with our actions. And many in our own country have come to doubt either our wisdom or our capacity to shape events beyond our borders. Some have even suggested that America’s time has passed,” he said.

The other candidates in the crowded Democratic field trailed by double digits in the Rasmussen survey, with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in fourth place polling only 3 percent.

The survey of 579 likely Democratic primary voters had a margin of error plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was conducted April 16-19.

Additional reporting by Mike Conlon in Chicago