Obama raises more money in Vermont than other candidates

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(Host) According to new federal election reports, Illinois senator Barack Obama has raised more money in Vermont than all of the other Democratic and Republican presidential candidates combined.

Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says it’s clear that Obama has chosen to duplicate some of the most successful aspects of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) While Vermont isn’t going to rank in the top ten of states making contributions to presidential candidates, some interesting trends have emerged in the first six months of 2007.

Illinois senator Barack Obama has raised just over $120,000 from Vermont donors during this time period. In comparison, New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has raised just $24,000 and former North Carolina senator John Edwards is a distant third having raised about $7,500.

Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis isn’t surprised by the results of what he refers to as “Vermont’s money primary”:

(Davis) “Senator Obama has a lot of appeal to grass roots Democrats in Vermont. He’s seen as an outsider. He’s seen as someone who is strongly opposed to the Iraq war. He’s seen as someone who might bring a new perspective to national politics. All of those sorts of things interestingly are claims that Howard Dean was making 4 years ago in the 2004 presidential cycle.”

(Kinzel) About one-third of Obama’s donations have been raised through the Internet. Davis notes that the Dean campaign of 2004 pioneered this strategy:

(Davis) “I think the Obama campaign studied the Dean campaign very carefully and they realized how the Internet can be used as a tool not just to raise money but also to organize people and get people mobilized to support the candidate as election day approaches closer.”

(Kinzel) Davis says the Internet still holds a lot of potential for the Obama campaign because the average contribution is well below federal limits.

(Davis) “So the people who have given Barack Obama $25, $50, $100 now in the summer of 2007, the Obama campaign can go back to those people this fall and in the winter and get another $25, $50, $100 and then as we get closer to the convention and the elections go back and ask them for money three, four or five times.”

(Kinzel) In the Republican presidential race, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney led GOP candidates in raising money from Vermont. Romney reported raising almost $26,000 since the beginning of December.

Despite having problems raising money at the national level, Arizona senator John McCain was close behind Romney, having raised just over $22,000 from Vermonters.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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