Dean, Clark lead Democrats in 4th-quarter fund raising

Former Vermont governor gets $14 million

retired general raises $10 million

December 30, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - Howard Dean has raised at least $14.1 million in the fourth quarter, bringing his annual total to almost $40 million and setting what aides say is a one-year record for Democratic fund raising in a presidential race.

Aides to Wesley K. Clark's campaign said he had raised at least $10 million this quarter, putting him in a financial position to challenge Dean should he do well in next year's early primaries.

When the books close tomorrow, the year-end deadline for reporting fund raising, Dean and Clark are expected to lead the quarterly list of nine Democratic candidates, all of whom have spent much of December scrambling to raise money before the start of primary voting next month.

Though President Bush is expected to eclipse all the Democratic candidates, having raised at least $111 million so far this year, candidates are still making last-minute appeals to donors this week.

Even Dean, with his strong final quarter, will be working until the last minute to increase his numbers. The campaign is sponsoring a nationwide conference call today to more than 1,370 fund-raising house parties nationwide.

The campaign's goal is to match its $14.8 million performance last quarter.

Dean is also taking advantage of an endorsement by former Vice President Al Gore, who will join him on the conference call and who sent an e-mail letter on Dean's behalf.

"Think of the sonic boom that we can create in this race if every person who supports this campaign makes a contribution," Gore wrote.

Aides to Dean pointed out that his totals for the year had set a record for a Democratic presidential candidate in the year before an election, eclipsing the campaigns of more established politicians such as former President Bill Clinton and Gore.

But Dean is raising funds under different rules. The new campaign finance law has raised the amount that candidates can collect from individual donors - to $2,000 from $1,000 - and has banned the unlimited soft money checks that financed much of the Clinton and Gore campaigns.

Even so, campaign manager Joe Trippi argues that Dean's efforts, totaling about $39.4 million so far this year, have been impressive for a candidate who began his campaign with no national fund-raising network.

"That's more than any Democrat in history," he said. "I don't think anybody comes close to it."

Clark's campaign is also talking about its success. Last quarter, the campaign raised $3.5 million in the two weeks after the retired general announced his candidacy, but questions remained as to whether it could sustain the effort.

Tomorrow is the end of his campaign's first full quarter of fund-raising. While the campaign's performance might be less than the $12 million some aides predicted in previous weeks, they still argue that it is an impressive showing.

"That's a substantial accomplishment for a guy who never held office and had no fund-raising network," said Mat Bennett, a spokesman for the Clark campaign.

In other Democratic efforts, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut began asking contributors yesterday to give $300,000 by midnight tomorrow.

And Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who raised at least $1.5 million so far this quarter, will be working the phones at his Ohio headquarters on New Year's Eve.

Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina is offering a T-shirt to those who give at least $35.

Although official reports will not be released until in late January, some campaigns choose to release their preliminary totals early - especially when they are strong - while others will wait until every donation has been counted.

Lieberman and Edwards, as well as Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, Al Sharpton and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, all declined to release preliminary figures.

Bush also has not released his totals.

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