How To Raise $20M In 3 Months

campaign fund-raising campaign finance politics money

The Skinny is Joel Roberts' take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.

How does a fledling presidential campaign raise $20 million in just three months for a candidate whose name isn't Clinton? That's the question the New York Times explores Tuesday in a pair of front-page stories looking at the fundraising strategies that helped Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama rake in the cash in the first quarter of 2007.

(Obama has not officially announced his fundraising totals, but aides told the Times he had collected more than $20 million in the first quarter, which would put him in the same very comfortable ballpark as Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.)

The Times traces Obama's fundraising prowess back to his upstart 2004 Senate campaign, when he built a donor network from the ground up, starting with black professionals in Chicago, then branching out to wealthy Chicago Democratic families, as well as friends from Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago. After his star-making speech at the Democratic convention in July 2004, the money train took off with big Hollywood and Wall Street donors getting aboard, and grass-roots contributions also pouring in.

Romney, meanwhile, announced his $20 million campaign windfall Monday, easily outpacing his better-known GOP rivals Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, the Times says, by drawing on his connections from two distant but wealthy networks: Wall Street and the Mormon church. A Romney spokesman also credited a Web fundraising system the campaign set up called "com-Mitt" with helping spread the word and bring in the dough for the former Massachusetts governor, who also, not incidentally, once ran a private equity fund.

To Live And Die In L.A.

The Los Angeles Times couldn't resist getting a last dig in at its now-former owners, the Chandler family, after they sold the paper's parent company, the Tribune Co., to Chicago businessman Samuel Zell in a deal valued at $8.2 billion.

"To today's Chandlers, Times is just a business," reads a front-page headline for a story chronicling the Chandlers' 120-year ownership of the paper and the demise of the "much-celebrated and maligned family that once dominated the civic, cultural and political life of Southern California."

Meanwhile, one elderly member of the Chandler family called newspapers "a fading star" and said we'll never see "the old glory days like we did. … It's time to get out in the best way we can."

Baghdad Safer?

The New York Times is keeping the heat on Sen. John McCain over his effort to use a weekend visit to a Baghdad market as evidence that the new security plan for the city is working.

The Times talked to several merchants in the market who were "incredulous" about that conclusion.

McCain led a congressional delegation through Baghdad's central market Sunday. They described it as a safe, bustling place, "like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime," in the words of Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

But it's unlikely shoppers strolling through markets in Terre Haute or Indianapolis this summer will be wearing bulletproof vests or be accompanied by 100 soldiers in armored Humvees – like the McCain delegation was.

"What are they talking about?" said the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market. "The security procedures were abnormal. … This was only for the media."

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