Dean raises $15 million in third fundraising quarter

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(Host) Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean raised roughly $15 million dollars in the last the months. The effort shatters the previous record for a Democratic candidate in the same time period by 50%.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Dean has been able to raise substantially more money than President Clinton did in the fall of 1995 when Clinton was planning his re-election campaign.

Dean has now raised roughly $23 million during 2003 – a total that’s expected to be considerably higher than any of the other nine Democratic presidential candidates.

Despite Dean’s strong fundraising effort, it’s no match for the money raised by President Bush. Bush has raised roughly $50 million in the last three months – more than $80 million since the beginning of the year. He’s expected to raise more than $200 million dollars by next spring.

Dean now faces a difficult question – should he reject public financing for his campaign? If he accepts public funds, his spending between now and the Democratic convention next summer will be capped at $45 million.

Bush is not taking public money and will be able to spend four to five times that amount before the Republican convention in August. Dean’s campaign manager, Joe Trippi, says it’s an issue the campaign will need to address in the coming months:

(Trippi) “Clearly the president has a huge advantage. I mean, $48 to $50 million in one quarter – that’s all any Democrat would be allowed to spend if they didn’t opt out of the matching system. Which would put you at a huge disadvantage during the period between April and August when you’re at the convention as the nominee. So it’s clearly something we have to look at we haven’t made a decision on it.”

(Kinzel) Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks it’s likely that Dean will forgo public financing because of the large amount of money that’s available to President Bush:

(Davis) “If Dean were to decide late this year not to go into the public financing scheme he could probably raise somewhere in the $80 to $100 million range before the convention. That’s only half of what Bush will spend but it’s about double what he would be able to spend if he went in under the public financing rules.”

(Kinzel) The Dean campaign has received donations from almost 200,000 people this year. Davis thinks this gives Dean a great base for future fundraising efforts:

(Davis) “The average contribution to the Dean campaign is somewhere between $80 and $90, that shows that there are a lot of people out there who are giving small amounts of money. And from the prospective of the Dean campaign, what that means is they can go back to these donors they can ask the person who’s given $50 or $100 in the last few months to give again before the end of the calendar year.”

(Kinzel) Dean has until the end of the year to make a decision about whether or not to accept public financing.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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