Even as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) reclaimed her overall lead in this year’s presidential money race, figures released Tuesday showed that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) ended the third quarter with slightly more money available for the coming primary battle.
Obama and Clinton each have raised about $80 million this year. Their nearest Democratic rival, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, has brought in $30 million, including $7 million in the quarter that ended Sunday.
Democratic strategist and attorney Darry Sragow said the big question for now was how Clinton and Obama would spend their money in the coming months.
“Unless they’re being self-destructive,” Sragow said, they should be hoarding their cash until the primary fights begin.
Clinton was able to raise $27 million in the July-to-September period -- roughly what she reported in the second quarter -- despite revelations that Norman Hsu, one of her biggest fundraisers, was wanted on a 15-year-old grand theft charge in California.
Of Clinton’s third-quarter total, $22 million was earmarked specifically for the primary season; the remaining $5 million could be used in the general election. Obama raised $20 million during the last three months, with $19 million slated for primary spending.
According to her campaign, Clinton has raised $62.6 million for the primaries. She has transferred another $10 million from her Senate account, giving her just under $73 million she can use for the primaries.
Obama has almost $75 million reserved for the primaries.
The latest fundraising reports also show that Clinton attracted 100,000 new donors in the third quarter, compared with Obama’s 93,000 new donors. But Obama’s aides said he still had more individual contributors -- about 350,000 -- than any of the other candidates.
Obama and Clinton are expected to raise more than $100 million each this year.
At the start of the year, some experts had said that major candidates would need at least that amount to compete in the 2008 primaries.
At this point, Clinton and Obama are thought to have raised significantly more than their top Republican counterparts, who have not announced third-quarter totals. The Republican National Committee cited Clinton’s fundraising prowess in a pitch for money Tuesday, urging donors to “stop the Hillary juggernaut” by sending money to the GOP.