Kerry Sees Fund-Raising Improvement

John Kerry's (search) fund raising has picked up substantially thanks to his Democratic primary lead, but is still dwarfed by President Bush's campaign haul.

Kerry has raised at least $7 million so far this year, campaign spokesman Michael Meehan said Friday. Bush, the lone Republican candidate, has brought in more than $13 million since Jan. 1.

Kerry is happy with his total nonetheless, Meehan said. The Massachusetts senator raised $3.25 million through his campaign Web site since winning a delegate contest Jan. 19 in Iowa, the first state to vote in the presidential race. That compares to $1 million in online donations to Kerry in all of last year.

"We are still fighting for the Democratic nomination, so we're very pleased," Meehan said.

Among the remaining Democratic hopefuls, Howard Dean's (search) campaign has collected at least $5 million so far this year, while North Carolina Sen. John Edwards has raised more than $3 million. Edwards' total includes at least $500,000 raised at two Los Angeles events Wednesday and Friday.

Edwards has enough money to compete in Wisconsin's primary Tuesday and beyond, spokesman Roger Salazar said.

Looming two weeks after the Wisconsin primary is "Super Tuesday," when 10 states, including costly California, New York and Ohio, will hold Democratic delegate contests. Edwards isn't worried about having enough money for those states, Salazar said.

"It's going to be very difficult for any campaign to run a full-fledged media campaign in states like California, Ohio, New York, all in the same week," he said.

Nearly all the remaining Democratic campaigns were running low on cash as 2004 began.

Kerry had $1.6 million in the bank but $3.8 million in bills to pay. He mortgaged his family's Boston home to help finance a roughly $6 million loan to help keep his campaign alive in December, when he trailed Dean in the polls.

Kerry's fortunes have turned around since then; he has won most of the primaries so far.

Dean, the former Vermont governor, had about $9.6 million on hand and about $1 million in bills to pay Jan. 1 after raising a Democratic record $41 million last year, nearly twice as much as No. 2 fund-raiser Kerry.

Edwards raised $16.4 million in 2003 and spent nearly all of it, finishing the year with $275,212 left but also $585,421 in bills. He received about $3 million from the presidential public financing system Jan. 2, helping keep his campaign afloat until fund raising picked up.

Bush, Kerry and Dean have opted out of the public financing system

That frees them from its $45 million spending limit, which stretches from 2003 through their parties' presidential nominating conventions this summer. But by skipping the program, they also gave up a government match of up to $250 for each donation, up to a total grant of about $18.6 million.

The candidates will detail their January fund raising and spending in reports to the Federal Election Commission due next Friday.