World and Nation

Clinton Campaign Struggles As Obama Raises $32 Million

Concerned that it could lose several primaries and caucuses through the rest of February, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign sought to create an alternate story line of success on Thursday by announcing that Clinton had raised $7.5 million online so far this month.

That unusually high figure was quickly overshadowed by Sen. Barack Obama’s announcement that he had raised the same amount in 36 hours since the 22-state contest on Tuesday, in addition to the $32 million that he raised in January.

Clinton drew $13.5 million in January.

With Tuesday behind them, the rivals have turned some of their ferocity away from voters and toward their donors, seeking the clear-cut victory in fundraising that neither could secure at the ballot box this week, when Obama won 13 states and Clinton nine.

Obama’s fundraising dominance, especially his announcement on Jan. 31 that he had raised $32 million, has sent jitters through Clinton’s donor base. Some of her biggest donors grew even more concerned Wednesday when her advisers said that she had lent the campaign $5 million from her own money and that some senior aides were working this month without salaries.

Several donors and senior aides said they had not been aware of the loan until Wednesday.

Clinton’s team mobilized Thursday to send reassuring messages to donors and supporters. The campaign first announced raising $4 million in 24 hours, then $6 million in 36 hours and then $7.5 million in total since Feb. 1.

Neither her nor Obama’s figures could be confirmed, because fundraising reports for this period will be made public in April.

“February is going to be by far our biggest month, by a huge amount,” Terry McAuliffe, Clinton’s campaign chairman, said in a conference call on Thursday with 300 donors that the campaign allowed reporters to listen to.

“It’s going to allow us to do everything we needed to do,” McAuliffe added, noting that the campaign would begin advertisements next week in Ohio and Texas, which hold primaries on March 4 with hundreds of delegates at stake.

Obama, speaking to reporters, zeroed in on Clinton’s loan and said that her decision to not disclose her income tax returns raised questions about the loan.

“I’ll just say that I’ve released my tax returns,” he responded to a question about tax returns. “That’s been a policy I’ve maintained consistently. I think the American people deserve to know where you get your income from.”

Obama stopped short of issuing a call for Clinton and former President Bill Clinton to release their returns. “I’m not going to get into the intricacies of their finances,” he told reporters as he flew to a rally in Nebraska. “That’s something that you’ll have to ask them.”

Nebraska holds nominating caucuses on Saturday.

Clinton campaign officials said she would release her returns if she won the nomination. The officials said there was enough information in her public Senate financial disclosures to assess her personal finances.