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Breaking News: Clinton passes $100 million level

December 31, 2007 |  7:00 pm

A few minutes ago a top campaign aide for Hillary Clinton told The Times' Dan Morain that her campaign has now passed the $100 million fundraising level.

The fourth quarter of 2007 ends tonight at midnight, although campaigns need not report their official sums to the Federal Election Commission until Jan. 31. But the New York senator is the first to claim the $100 million mark that was widely considered the 2007 financial bar for serious candidates.

The aide to the Democratic front-runner did not disclose the exact amount she raised in the last three months. But given that she had amassed $80 million in the first three quarters, the junior senator brought in at least another $20 million in the final quarter. Barack Obama's campaign has not released its fourth quarter numbers, but it raised $78 million in the first nine months of 2007 so the two candidates lkiely remain close in incoming financial resources. Without citing specific sums, Obama officials told supporters today they would have more than the $100 million necessary.

The fourth quarter is a typically tough period to hit up donors for political money. Many contributors are more focused on holiday celebrations than politics. And with the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary just days away, candidates are more focused on actual campaigning than on raising campaign cash. Still, this carefully timed news can play to the inevitability factor that the Clinton campaign has sought to cultivate all along, as well as help counter attention to a new Des Moines Register poll tonight showing Obama increasing his lead over Clinton.

Comparing Clinton's $100 million-plus feat to times past, Democrats raised a combined $57 million in 1999, the last time there was no incumbent. Republicans, led by then Texas Gov. George W. Bush's $65 million, raised $108 million combined eight years ago.

Four years ago, in the 2003 calendar year before the general election, all of the Democratic presidential candidates raised a combined $128.9 million, while President Bush used the power of incumbency to raise $128.8 million alone, according to FEC records.

--Andrew Malcolm

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