Washington: Hillary Clinton’s race for the White House showed vulnerability as she admitted tapping her own pocketbook for $5 million to keep up a grueling fight against rival Barack Obama.
One day after fighting to a virtual draw with Senator Obama in the Super Tuesday primaries, Senator Clinton acknowledged that her rival’s recent fundraising supremacy had pushed her to use her personal finances in January.
“I loaned the campaign five million from my money,” Clinton said Wednesday, after 22 state nominating contests failed to set a clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
“I loaned it because I believe very strongly in this campaign. We had a great month fundraising in January, broke all records. But my opponent was able to raise more money,” Clinton said.
The Obama campaign called the announcement “a dramatic move, and a clear acknowledgement that our campaign has the momentum,” and appealed for more donations to match Clinton’s cash injection.
Obama’s campaign announced last week that he had raised a stunning $32 million last month, setting a new all-time record in a race that is shaping up to be the most expensive in US presidential election history.
Clinton’s camp said her haul last month was 13.5 million, after both campaigns gave total 2007 figures of 103 million for Obama and 115 million for Clinton.
Clinton’s admission came as Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean warned that the party needed to settle the winner before its nominating convention in August, or face an uphill challenge against Republicans in the November 4 presidential election.
“The idea that we can afford to have a big fight at the convention and then win the race in the next eight weeks, I think, is not a good scenario,” Dean said on NY1 television, according to excerpts.
“I think we will have a nominee sometime in the middle of March or April. But if we don’t, then we’re going to have to get the candidates together and make some kind of an arrangement,” he said.
The virtual tie between Clinton and Obama has opened the possibility that the convention, which formally anoints a nominee, could end up being “brokered” -- negotiated under great pressure and the cloud of shady deal-making in back rooms.
On the Republican side John McCain sought to woo the Republican Party’s wary conservative base to seal the deal for his party’s nomination after a spate of solid victories on Super Tuesday.
“We’ll be hitting the campaign trail tomorrow morning,” McCain said in Phoenix, Arizona. “Hopefully we can wrap this thing up, unite the party and be ready to take on the Democratic nominee in November.”
The Arizona senator won nine of 21 states on offer Tuesday, including the high-population prizes of California and New York.
That gave him a commanding lead of 697 delegates to the Republican convention, compared with 244 for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and 187 for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
But McCain, 71, remains short of the 1,191 needed to win the nomination, according to a Real Clear Politics count.
With neither rival ready to concede defeat, McCain cancelled a planned trip to Europe to meet British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and address a German security conference in order to campaign.
The Super Tuesday fight left Clinton and Obama in a virtual dead heat, forcing them to galvanize their campaigns for several more grueling weeks of fighting on new state battlegrounds.
Clinton, 60, launched an Internet appeal to raise $3 million in three days, while Obama’s campaign countered with a bid to match Clinton’s personal cash injection of $5 million.
“We have raised more than $3 million since the polls closed on February 5th. But we have no choice, we must match their $5 million right now,” Obama’s campaign said.
Clinton won eight states Tuesday, including the three biggest prizes, California, her home state of New York and Massachusetts, checking Obama’s capture of 13 states.
Another state, New Mexico, remained too close to call more than 24 hours after polls closed.
The rivals were gearing up for the next Democratic nominating contests on Saturday, in Louisiana, Nebraska and the Virgin Islands, Sunday in Maine, and Tuesday in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.
A Real Clear Politics running count had the New York senator with 1,102 delegates, half of the 2,025 she needs to capture the nomination. Illinois Senator Obama, 46, was close behind with 933.