GOP Beats Dems in February Fundraising

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Democratic National Committee raised $3.2
million in February, a strikingly low take for a financial
juggernaut led by President Barack Obama and his legions of
grass-roots supporters who helped him shatter campaign fundraising
records.

Even the committee's Republican counterpart raised more - $5.1
million - last month and did so under more difficult circumstances.
The GOP was coming off of a disastrous election in which it lost
the White House and saw its numbers in Congress shrink further. New
GOP chairman Michael Steele also had a rocky start.

Overall, monthly reports being filed Friday with the Federal
Election Commission show the Republican National Committee in
healthier shape than the Democrats as both parties start raising
money for special congressional elections and governor's races in
Virginia and New Jersey this year, as well as congressional
elections in 2010.

The DNC reported $8.6 million on hand and $7 million in debt,
while the RNC reported $24 million in the bank and no debt.

Obama, who raised nearly $750 million during his presidential
campaign, has not focused on party politics for fundraising since
his election, spending his time instead assembling his
administration and pushing the economic stimulus bill through
Congress. Democratic fundraising efforts also have been slowed by
the decision by DNC Chairman and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine to forgo
most political activity until the Virginia Legislature completed
its legislative session in late February.

Democrats are hardly broke. They still have an energized base of
donors led by Obama, who ended 2008 with some $18 million in his
presidential campaign account. He transferred $2 million to the DNC
in February. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also is a
fundraising draw.

Obama has yet to take part in any major fundraiser; his first
event for the DNC is set for Wednesday in Washington. Democrats
have been mindful of the potential backlash if the president
diverts attention from trying to solve the nation's economic woes
for campaign activities.

The party also says it has not aggressively used Obama's
13-million strong e-mail list to raise money. Rather, the list has
been tapped primarily for organizational purposes. Still, Democrats
were raising at least some money through the Internet, sending out
appeals that tagged conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh as
the new leader of the GOP.

At the same time, Kaine is essentially a part-time party
chairman until his term as governor ends later this year.

A $3.7 billion budget shortfall kept Kaine all but tied to
Richmond until the state legislative session ended Feb. 28. While
the legislature was in session, a state law prohibited Kaine from
raising money for his own political action committee or the state
leadership committee he runs although he could help with cash for
the party.

By comparison, in February 2005, after George W. Bush won
re-election and with Republicans controlling Congress, the RNC
raised $12.5 million under new chairman Ken Mehlman.

The DNC raised $6.5 million during that period when its party
was out of power at both ends of Pennsylvania Ave. That included a
$1 million transfer from failed presidential candidate John Kerry.


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