WASHINGTON Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raised $32 million in the single month of January, a whopping figure that has permitted the campaign to boost staff and extend advertising to states beyond the sweeping Feb. 5 contests, aides said Thursday.
The amount was the most raised in one month by a presidential candidate who still faced a primary challenge.
Obama is now advertising in 20 of the 22 states in play for next week's Super Tuesday and plans to begin advertising in seven more states that hold primaries or caucuses later in February. Rival Hillary Rodham Clinton is advertising in 12 Super Tuesday states, including her home state of New York.
With John Edwards out of the race, Clinton and Obama are in a fierce race for delegates to secure the nomination. Feb. 5 offers the biggest single opportunity for delegates, but it is impossible for either one to seal the nomination on that day.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the campaign attracted 170,000 new donors for a total of 650,000 donors overall. The $32 million raised in one month matches the campaign's best three-month fundraising period in 2007, when the campaign raised $30 million in primary money and $2 million for the general. The money raised in January was all for the primaries.
"We think that the strength of our financial position and the number of donors does speak to financial sustainability if it ends up going through March and April," Plouffe said of the race. "We think we will have the financial resources to conduct vigorous campaigns in the states to come."
Obama and Clinton have been aggressive fundraisers: Both raised more than $100 million in 2007. While the Clinton campaign has not released its January totals, Obama's fundraising for the month was expected to eclipse hers.
"Once people start voting that's a more important measure of performance," said Clinton spokesman Jay Carson. As for money, "That's one measure of a campaign."
"It's one of the most important markers in the period before actual voters start voting. We're no longer in the invisible primary, we're in the real primary."
In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry raised more than $32 million in each of four months from March through July, but by then he had already secured the party's nomination.
Plouffe said Obama's campaign, surprisingly, had its best single fundraising period the day after losing the New Hampshire primary to Clinton. In January, Obama won the Iowa caucuses and the South Carolina primary; Clinton won the New Hampshire primary and won the popular vote in the Nevada caucuses, though Obama won one more delegate. She also won popular votes in Michigan and Florida where the candidates did not campaign because no nominating delegates were at stake.
Obama and Clinton are competing heavily for votes in California, the richest Feb. 5 prize in terms of delegates. Obama has also ventured into New York, forcing Clinton to play defense in a state that has elected her twice to the Senate.The only two Feb. 5 states Obama is not advertising in are Oklahoma and his home state of Illinois. Plouffe said the campaign also is set to begin radio and television ads Friday in states with contests between Feb. 9 and Feb. 12, including Louisiana, Washington, Nebraska, Maine, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Associated Press Writer Mike Glover contributed to this report.