3 Candidates' Spending Tops Funds Raised in Quarter

By Thomas B. Edsall, Washington Post Staff Writer

Three prominent contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination -- Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and John Edwards (N.C.) and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) -- spent more than they raised during the last quarter, depleting crucial resources as the Jan. 19 Iowa caucus and the Jan. 27 New Hampshire primary fast approach.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) barely stayed out of the red for the quarter, raising $3.63 million and spending $3.59 million.

The third-quarter struggles of the four candidates, all members of Congress, sharply contrasted with the performance of former Vermont governor Howard Dean and retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who are campaigning for their party's nomination as outsiders. Both raised substantially more than they spent in the three-month period ending Sept. 30.

Dean set a record for Democratic presidential fundraising in a quarter, collecting $14.8 million and spending $8.8 million. Combined with money raised earlier this year, Dean had a cash balance of $12.4 million on Sept. 30, up from $6.4 million at the end of June, according to aides.

Clark, who entered the race in the closing two weeks of the quarter, raised $3.5 million, spent just over $100,000, for a balance of $3.4 million, according to a report his campaign filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission. Early last night, he was the only one of the leading candidates to have filed a complete quarterly report. The other major campaigns all supplied general information to reporters, saying they would meet the midnight deadline.

President Bush's reelection campaign released his totals for the quarter on Tuesday -- $49.5 million. He has raised $83.9 million since he announced his reelection campaign in May, and has $70.4 million in the bank.

Edwards and Kerry, the two fundraising leaders among the Democrats at the end of the first quarter last spring, both spent far more than they raised in the third quarter.

Edwards raised $2.1 million, and transferred $460,000 from his abortive Senate reelection campaign to his presidential fund, for a total of $2.6 million. He spent more than twice that, $5.9 million, leaving him a cash balance of $4.8 million, down from $8.1 million at the end of June.

Jennifer Palmieri, spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, sought to put the figures in the best possible light. "We have what we think we need for an aggressive national campaign," she said.

Kerry spent about $7 million, $3 million more than he raised in the quarter. Kerry, one of the more successful Democratic fundraisers earlier this year, saw his cash balance fall from $10.8 million at the end of June to $7.8 million at the end of September.

Gephardt, in turn, raised $3.8 million for the quarter, and spent $4.2 million. By the end of September, he had $5.9 million in the bank, down from $6.3 million at the end of June.

The Clark campaign pointedly noted that in the two weeks between their candidate's announcement in September and the end of the quarter, he "far outpaced the early fundraising efforts of every other Democratic candidate. General Clark averaged nearly $250,000 a day in contributions. By contrast . . . Dean took in approximately $446 a day [and] Kerry took in $5,975 a day."

In contrast to Edwards, Gephardt, Lieberman and Kerry, who were slow to release overall figures for the third quarter yesterday, both the Clark and Dean campaigns were eager to highlight their fundraising. Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, was on the phone with reporters for more than an hour talking about it.

In a statement issued by his campaign, Dean declared that his fundraising success represents in part a repudiation of his party's "establishment."

"This report documents an American citizenry that is awakening to reclaim their democracy and restore their republic; a citizenry that wants to take back their economy from corporate scandals and corporate executives who inflate their salaries while fleecing pension funds; a citizenry that fears its elected officials are bankrupting their children's future. . . . They feel betrayed by a Democratic Party establishment that rolled over and provided no opposition, no debate, to a mistaken war and continued attacks on our civil liberties."

Lieberman spokesman Jano Cabrera said, "This is one of those times when money actually reflects reality." The Democratic contest, he said, has come down to "Howard Dean versus 'fill in the blank.' "

Database editor Sarah Cohen contributed to this report.

See the article on Washington Post website

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

   Become a Clean Money Member