Clinton leads 2008 money chase with $ 27 million

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WASHINGTON, Oct 2 (Reuters) Democrat Hillary Clinton raised 27 million dollars for her 2008 presidential bid in the third quarter, leading all rivals and strengthening her front-runner status three months before the first votes.

Clinton's campaign today reported raising 22 million dollars for the primary nomination race that begins in January and another 5 million dollars for the general campaign ahead of the November 2008 election.

Her fund-raising beat top rival Barack Obama, the first-term Illinois senator who raised 19 million dollars in primary money and another 1 million dollars in general election funds in the quarter that ended on Sunday.

The strong performance defied historical trends for the third quarter, when presidential candidates typically raise less money as they compete for attention with summer vacations.

It also gave Clinton a fresh edge on Obama in the one area where his campaign had showed the most strength -- raising money.

''Hillary wanted you to know that this was our best quarter yet,'' her campaign manager, Patty Solis Doyle, said in an e-mail to supporters. ''This is the moment when your dedication defied the skeptics.'' Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady, has taken a big lead over her Democratic rivals in national opinion polls in recent months, solidifying her position at the head of the field.

But Obama had raised more money than Clinton in the second financial quarter and built a vast grass-roots network of more than 350,000 donors.

The Clinton campaign reported adding 100,000 new donors during the quarter, while Obama added 93,000 new donors.

DONATIONS ABOUT EVEN The two campaigns have raised similar amounts -- about 80 million dollars -- in donations over the first nine months of the year, although Obama's campaign noted he leads in funds for the primary nominating race.

Clinton's general election funds can only be used if she wins the nomination and does not take federal funds.

An Obama spokesman criticised Clinton's refusal to stop taking money from Washington lobbyists.

''We have raised a historic 74.9 million dollars in dollars available for primary spending, without transferring one cent from any other campaign fund and with no money from federal lobbyists or PACs,'' Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.

Candidates for president must report their fund-raising activity every three months. The third quarter ended at midnight on Sunday, and detailed financial reports must be submitted to the Federal Election Commission by October 15.

Those reports will offer detailed breakdowns on the spending and savings rates of each campaign and how much cash they have left for the final three-month push to the first votes in Iowa in early January.

Neither the Clinton nor Obama campaigns have said how much money they had in the bank at the end of September.

Donors can give up to 2,300 dollars to finance the primary race and another 2,300 dollars for the campaign for the November 2008 general election if the candidate receives the nomination.

Clinton and Obama's other rivals for the Democratic nomination have reported much lower third-quarter fund-raising totals, led by 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards, who took in 7 million dollars.

No Republicans have reported their third-quarter fund-raising yet.

Reuters SBA VP0152

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