Obama plans fundraisers in Clinton's back yard

Celeste Katz
New York Daily News (MCT)

NEW YORK - Sen. Barack Obama has raised a ton of campaign money in Sen. Hillary Clinton's backyard, and as the next round of fund-raising begins, he's coming right back to Manhattan for more.

On Monday, Obama hits New York to fatten his treasury with the help of former AOL President Robert Pittman and Huffington Post founder Kenneth Lerer.

The Illinois Democrat got a jump on Clinton in the renewed dash for cash: As she headed for an Easter break in the Dominican Republic, Obama's camp announced he raised an additional $500,000 from 4,300 new donors since unveiling earlier this week his jaw-dropping haul of $25 million.

Disheartening for Clinton, Obama's list of New York donors - and more importantly, New York-area bundlers who hit up their rich friends for money - includes former Clinton loyalists like financier Orin Kramer and Jeh Johnson, a top-ranking Air Force official during the Clinton administration.

His impressive showing is sure to kick the Clinton financial campaign into its highest gear.

"One filing period does not a campaign make. The Clintons got a wakeup call. Rest assured, they and their allies are now wide awake," said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf.

Clinton's treasury was pumped up by donations from 50,000 people, far short of the 250,000 who contributed to her Senate campaign.

It's not clear if that represents a falloff of support for Clinton or shows a vast Rolodex of supporters she can still call on.

Having mined plenty of high rollers in her $26 million first-quarter take, Clinton also is going to hold more low-dollar events for regular folks. Among them is an April 23 event at Manhattan's Pier 94, with her husband as a special guest star and tickets starting at $100.

"Obviously, there is great enthusiasm for these events, and we're excited to hold them in different venues to accommodate as many of our supporters as possible," said Clinton spokesman Blake Zeff.

Even if Obama can pick Clinton's pocket, there's little chance he can poach Democratic votes in her home state. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows her clobbering Obama 44 percent to 14 percent in New York.

"There's plenty of dough in New York, (but) if anybody comes into the state against (Clinton), they're nuts. It's a waste of time . . . I don't care if (Obama) raises a zillion," Quinnipiac pollster Mickey Carroll said.

Obama might try.

"We're encouraged by the tremendous amount of support we've had in New York and all over the country," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

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