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Boston Globe - Obama Says Strength Lies In Number Of Donors

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Boston Globe - Obama Says Strength Lies In Number Of Donors

By Philip Elliott

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama on Monday resisted the temptation to talk about his whopping $31 million fundraising quarter -- for six minutes.

"It's a wonderful thing only because of this: It's a wonderful thing because we've got 250,000 people who have donated to our campaign," the Illinois senator said at a campaign rally. "People said we couldn't compete, by trusting in the American people, but we can. There are a quarter million people who want to see a new health care system out there. There are a quarter million people who want to turn the page on our energy policy. There are at least a quarter million people who are ready to see this war in Iraq brought to an end."

The campaign announced second-quarter fundraising totals that show him outraising Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton by $10 million -- "which is great," Obama joked later in Concord. Obama raised at least $31 million for the primary and $1.5 million for the general election, if he wins his party's nomination.

Speaking at a Concord house party with organic yogurt mogul Gary Hirshberg, Obama said voters in early voting states should consider his fundraising base and promise to fight back 'in a way that is forceful and swift, but true."

"I'm raising twice as much money as any of the Republicans, which means that if they come at me with an attack ad, I'll have two ads -- with truth -- on television," Obama said. "They come at me with two ads, four. Obama 'truth ads.' The Truth Squad will be out. We're going to take that seriously...I'm skinny, but I'm tough."

Obama said he could prove that toughness against a rival campaign during the primary.

"If I win the nomination against Hillary Clinton, then I must be pretty tough. I'm just being realistic. They don't play. They're very serious about winning, as are, I think, all of my very worthy competitors," Obama said.

Obama's total is a record for a Democrat at this stage of a presidential contest and ensures his place as a top contender for the nomination. It steals the spotlight from Clinton, his main rival. And it establishes the two of them as the fundraising juggernauts of the entire presidential field.

On Monday, Obama's campaign released the number of its online donors thus far: 110,000. Those donors have contributed $10.3 million during last quarter, bringing Obama's online totals to $17.2 million. Nine in 10 of those donors gave $100 or less.

"It's not about me. The reason people are coming out is because they are burning with a desire and want for change," Obama said, repeating his oft-used explanation for his candidacy. "People feel a sense of urgency about what is happening in the country right now...We've placed our faith in the core decency of the American people."

Obama has been helped by his early -- and fervent -- opposition to the unpopular war in Iraq. Some of his largest applause lines come from speaking against the war.

"The threat that we face now is nowhere as high as it was during the Cold War. We shouldn't be governed by fear. We should be smart and tough and strategic when dealing with these issues. But we shouldn't allow our politics to be driven simply by the fear of terrorism. That's part of what has distorted, I think, our politics over the last several years," he said in Laconia.

He said the country should bolster its intelligence capabilities, examine the Pentagon budget for antiquated Cold War programs and encourage bipartisanship.

"I get teased because I talk a lot about hope and bringing people together and leaving behind the divisions of the past. Sometimes, the reporters, the folks in Washington, say I'm being naive. They call me a hope-monger, a hope-peddler. But I am absolutely convinced...that's what people want."

A Republican National Committee spokeswoman called him amateur.

"No matter how much Barack Obama's campaign raises, it doesn't change the fact that he's a rookie politician with little substance on the issues," said Amber Wilkerson. "What we do know about Sen. Obama on issues is that he is for raising taxes and cutting funding for America's troops, positions that are out of touch with voters in New Hampshire and across the country."

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