WASHINGTON – Presidential hopeful Howard Dean (search) set a new Democratic record by taking in roughly $15 million in the past three months, and on Wednesday hinted at the potential to raise millions more: only 1 percent of his donors have given the maximum so far.
Dean finished the third fund-raising quarter that ended Sept. 30 with about $12 million on hand, campaign manager Joe Trippi (search) said. About 99 percent of Dean's donors have yet to reach the $2,000 limit, meaning they can contribute again, Trippi said.
Dean's donations lift him to about $25 million so far this year and push him to the front in the Democratic money chase. Still, the money represents just a fraction of President Bush's total of about $84 million, with some $70 million cash on hand.
Bush and Dean were closer in a few other fund-raising breakdowns, and Dean is outpacing Bush on the Internet. Dean raised about $7.5 million through the Web in the third quarter, compared to $1.4 million for Bush. The former Vermont governor and Bush have comparable numbers of donors overall: Bush has about 262,000 so far this year, Dean has about 233,995.
Dean broke the previous Democratic record for a single quarter, surpassing the $10.3 million then-President Clinton raised for his re-election bid from July through September 1995. Trippi noted that the Dean campaign had only about $150,000 in the bank last January.
"This is absolutely amazing testament to the grass roots and to ordinary Americans participating in democracy again," Trippi said. "And they absolutely know now they can make a difference. I always thought our biggest problem in a campaign was getting people over the idea that they couldn't make a difference."
The rest of the nine-member Democratic field trailed Dean for the quarter. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was expected to report $4.5 million to $5 million in donations. Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt raised $3.8 million, about the same as in the previous quarter, a campaign official said.
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut had been aiming for $4 million, Wesley Clark raised at least $3.5 million, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was expected to report raising $2.5 million to $3 million; and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich raised about $1.65 million. Carol Moseley Braun reported raising $125,410, but also had $113,918 in debt.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Gephardt said some Democratic donors have yet to give to any candidate.
"There are people who are waiting for you to tell them who's definitely going to win," Gephardt said. "It'll become increasingly clear as we start through these primaries."
Gephardt is aiming for $20 million for the year; he must raise about $6 million in the quarter ending Dec. 31 to reach his goal. He expects to draw $5 million in government "matching funds" from his 2003 fund raising, and will continue raising money next year.
Dean, Kerry and Clark have been considering following Bush's lead and skipping public financing for the primaries. Those who take the government money can get a match of up to $250 for each contribution up to a total of about $18.7 million, but are limited to $45 million in spending.
The campaigns were detailing their third-quarter fund raising in reports to the Federal Election Commission (search) due at midnight Wednesday.