Obama and Clinton report over $ 30 million in campaign coffers

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HAT TIP: By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press 

Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton ended the first half of the year with more than $30 million each for the presidential primaries, a formidable financial performance for the two leading Democratic White House contenders.As the two rivals basked in money, Republican John McCain’s presidential campaign reported spending more than it raised from April through June, leaving him financially strapped with $3.2 million cash on hand and a $1.8 million debt.

Those contrasting financial pictures emerged Sunday from quarterly financial reports filed by the campaigns with the Federal Election Commission. Obama reported having about $34 million in primary cash on hand; Clinton reported $33 million. Obama had an edge on money owed by the campaign; he reported less than $1 million in debts and Clinton reported $3 million.Obama led in fundraising for the period covering April though June, raising $32 million for the primary election and nearly $800,000 for the general election.Clinton raised about $21.5 million for the primary and $5.6 million for the general election, her campaign said. Neither candidate can use the general election money unless he or she wins the nomination.John Edwards, the Democrat closest to the two fundraising leaders, reported having $12 million in the bank for the primary.

Hindered by unpopular stands on the war and on immigration, McCain raised $11.26 million in the second quarter, short of his first quarter donations. He spent $13 million. Overall, McCain has raised $25 million so far in his campaign and spent $22 million.

The Arizona senator upended his campaign organization last week as his financial straits became apparent. His campaign manager, Terry Nelson, left and his longtime strategist, John Weaver, resigned. The repercussions caused changes down the chain of command. While his financial straits have been known for more than a week, the reports show that McCain spent more on staff than either of his better financed rivals. McCain’s payroll grew after the first quarter, despite initial cutbacks. Overall, McCain payroll was nearly $3.6 million for the year so far.

Obama enters the third quarter with more fundraising momentum than Clinton. Not only has he aggressively gone after money, he has also worked to expand his donor base. His efforts have netted him more than 250,000 donors for the year. Overall, he has raised nearly $59 million, with all but about $1.7 million devoted to the primary election.

Despite his vaunted base of small donors, Obama is a favorite among employees of some of the nation’s largest investment banks and hedge funds. One of them, Kenneth C. Griffin, president of Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel Investment Group, gave Obama $4,600 this quarter, the maximum allowed. Other Citadel employees gave him $147,550.

Lehman Brothers employees gave Obama $160,760 this quarter; Goldman Sachs, $103,550; and JP Morgan Chase, $101,950. About half of Obama’s fundraising total for the year comes from about 10,000 donors who have given him the maximum donation.

New York Sen. Clinton has raised $53 million, with $12.6 million of that usable only in the general election. Clinton boosted her revenue in the first quarter by transferring $10 million into her campaign from her Senate election account.

The Clinton campaign reported spending $12.2 million.

Obama dramatically increased the size of his staff in the second quarter. His payroll went from less than $1 million in the first three months to $3.2 million in the second quarter. The campaign has hired more than 100 staffers and has 29 field offices in Iowa and six in New Hampshire.

Obama’s campaign paid nearly $3 million for travel during the quarter and spent about $1.3 million in telemarketing, one of its top single expenses.

Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina and 2004 vice presidential nominee, raised about $8.8 million for the primary from April through June; he also raised $250,000 for the general election, money he can’t use unless he becomes the Democratic nominee.

Overall, Edwards has raised $21.8 million for the primary and $1.3 million for the general election. While trailing Obama and Clinton, Edwards retained his place ahead of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut.

Dodd reported raising nearly $3.3 million with nearly $6.4 million in the bank. For the year, Dodd has total receipts of $12.1 million, which includes a $4.7 million transfer from his Senate campaign account. Richardson on Saturday reported raising $7 million in the second quarter and having a similar amount in the bank.

Among Republicans filing Sunday, Ron Paul, the Texas congressman running a long-shot campaign, reported raising nearly $2.4 million from April through June and ended the quarter with a similar amount in the bank.

The total is a remarkable showing for Paul, putting him in a better financial position — with less cash on hand but no debt — than McCain. Paul still barely registers in public opinion polls and raised far less than McCain or the other leading Republicans. But his libertarian views and opposition to the war in Iraq have lit a fire among nontraditional contributors, particularly on the Internet.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who are leading the Republican field in money and in public opinion polls, reported their finances on Friday. Romney had $12.1 million cash on hand and has lent his campaign nearly $9 million since the beginning of the year. Giuliani reported $14.6 million in the bank for the primary election.

Republican presidential candidates filing second quarter reports Sunday:

_Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas raised $1.4 million, slightly more than his campaign brought in during the previous quarter. The candidate reported having $460,236 in the bank.

_Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee raised $764,000 and had $437,000 cash on hand at the end of last month.

_Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson raised $461,000. He reported nearly $122,000 cash on hand, but also listed debts and obligations of more than $127,000.

_Rep. Duncan Hunter of California raised $806,000 and had $213,000 cash on hand.

Lackluster performance in the second quarter already caused one Republican candidate to quit the race. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced Saturday he was withdrawing. On Sunday he reported $62,000 cash on hand and $129,000 in debts and obligations.

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Angry black activists march on Douglas County Courthouse for Genarlow Wilson

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Hat Tip: nal Constitution

With thunder overhead and rain threatening, about 2,000 marchers took to the streets in Douglas County today in support of Genarlow Wilson’s release from state prison.

The group, led by the NAACP, marched from Douglasville High School to the county courthouse, chanting “Free Genarlow Wilson” and singing civil rights songs.he case of Wilson, serving a 10-year sentence for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17, will be heard by the Georgia Supreme Court July 20.

Attorney General Thurbert Baker is appealing a Monroe County Superior Court judge’s decision to reduce Wilson’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor and free him from prison. Baker said the judge overstepped his authority when he granted Wilson’s motion last month. Wilson’s attorney is arguing his 10-year prison sentence is cruel and unusual punishment.

The high court also decided to hold an expedited hearing on a Douglas County Superior Court judge’s decision to deny bond for Wilson pending Baker’s appeal. The judge says Wilson is not eligible for bond during the appeal because of the nature of his crime, aggravated child molestation.

The almost entirely black march Saturday started around 10 a.m. and ended with speeches at the courthouse. Speakers denounced Baker and Douglas County District Attorney David McDade. The U.S. attorney’s office said McDade violated federal law when he distributed a videotape from a rape and child molestation case to legislators and journalists.

Police were present at the march to prevent any clashes with counterprotesters.

“We were worried aabout a bunch of neo-Nazis and Skinheads showing up,” said Douglasville police Chief Joe Whisenant , “Fortunately, they didn’t.”

Obama gives a shout out to Genarlow Wilson

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HAT TIP: AP, Click on Detroit, Paula Mooney

DETROIT — Presidential hopeful Barack Obama drew the loudest cheers of the eight Democratic candidates at a civil rights forum as he assailed the Bush administration’s record on race relations.The candidates shared the stage Thursday at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s 98th annual convention.Obama, seeking to become the first black president, drew the strongest applause from the 3,000 people at the event.

“I know what you know, which is that despite all the progress that has been made we still have more work to do,” said the first-term Illinois senator. Black voters are a core party constituency. Candidates are in a fierce struggle to capture their support and are refusing to cede it to Obama. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner, enjoys strong support in the black community and is married to former President Clinton, who was wildly popular among black voters. John Edwards has won praise from black leaders for his commitment to fighting poverty.

After the forum, microphones picked up Clinton and Edwards discussing their desire to limit future joint appearances to exclude some rivals lower in the crowded field. “We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group,” Edwards said. Clinton agreed. “We’ve got to cut the number. … They’re not serious,” she said, then thanked Obama and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich as they walked by. Turning back to Edwards, she added that she thought their campaigns had already tried to limit the debates and “we’ve gotta get back to it.”Obama’s performance was the first time he has managed to outshine Clinton in a candidate’s forum. That includes last month’s debate at Howard University, a historically black college in the nation’s capital.

At the forum, each candidate responded to five questions from NAACP delegates on topics including health care, gun violence and voting rights.All the candidates were warmly welcomed in Detroit. Even before Obama spoke, the crowd at Cobo Center was clearly in his corner. Obama derided President George W. Bush’s commutation of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s prison term, noting black men routinely serve time.

“We know we have more work to do when Scooter Libby gets no prison time and a 21-year-old honor student, who hadn’t even committed a felony, gets 10 years in prison,” Obama said. Aides said Obama was referring to Genarlow Wilson, a Georgia man serving a 10-year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. A judge last month ordered Wilson to be freed, but prosecutors are blocking the order. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of lying and obstruction of justice in the CIA-leak case. He received a 30-month prison sentence, which Bush commuted last week.

“I’d like to thank the NAACP for letting me follow Barack Obama,” joked Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who delivered his opening remarks after the Illinois senator.Obama, 45, said he was too young to have participated in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but said he was inspired by it. That comment prompted a mild dig from Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, who stressed his long career in public life.”I’ve been around a while, and I’m old enough to remember the civil rights movement,” Biden, 64, said, adding he was the best candidate to bring an end to the Iraq war.

Clinton said the forum would cover more issues of importance to the black community than the administration had in six years.”We have a president who does not see what you and I see. … With your hard work, we will render the people that you and I see visible once again,” the New York senator said. She cited “Invisible Man,” Ralph Ellison’s classic novel of black alienation. She also thanked the organist, whose music helped fill the gaps between programs on the stage, for providing a spiritual dimension to the forum.”I think we needed to have a little uplift here,” she said. “If we’re going to win this election, it’s going to be because we have faith.”

Edwards emphasized his commitment to fighting poverty, calling it “the cause of my life.” He plans to begin a multi-state tour Monday in New Orleans to spotlight the millions of people who live in poverty.Edwards’ call for felons’ voting rights to be restored also received loud cheers.Yet as a senator from North Carolina in 2002 he voted against a bill allowing felons the right to vote in federal elections. The topic of voting rights drew an impassioned response from the candidates, many of whom spoke of the disputed 2000 election in Florida that saw many black voters disenfranchised.”The American people don’t feel that when they go vote their vote counts,” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said.

Dodd praised the NAACP for holding a burial ceremony for the “N-word” earlier this week.”We ought to have more burials. Why not bury neglect? Bigotry? The failed policy in Iraq?” Dodd asked, adding that he believed every Democrat on the stage would be a better president than Bush.

Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel also participated.Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo was the lone GOP candidate and said he accepted the invitation because his message is for all people in the U.S. A vociferous foe of illegal immigration, Tancredo said the wages of black workers suffer because of illegal workers.