July 18th, 2007
09:10 AM ET
9 years ago

Obama breaking records, selling merchandise

Watch CNN’s Tom Foreman take a look at how Obama is making money selling campaign swag.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is breaking fundraising records in his bid for the White House, but some people seem to be questioning the way he is adding up his numbers.

Even though he is a fresh face in a presidential race that boasts several veteran U.S. senators, current and former governors and the former mayor of New York City, Obama is beating them all when it comes to individual donors and the amount raised so far in the battle for the White House.How many individual contributors you ask? How about 258,000. He is the only African-American candidate in the race and on the campaign trail, Obama is treated like a rock star.

"You get stories of people who come to these Obama events and say, 'I haven't much been interested in politics, here, I'll give you the money out of my handbag,'" said John Dickerson, a political journalist with the on-line publication Slate. "That gives a sense of momentum, a sense of movement."

The junior senator from Illinois, who has been in office a little more than two years, is growing his supporter base in a non-traditional way. People who buy Obama campaign hats, buttons and bumper stickers are being counted as part of that record breaking number of contributors. At least four other presidential candidates: Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona; Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colorado; Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California; and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; also count such people as donors.

Unlike most of his Democratic opponents, Obama sells his campaign merchandise directly instead of outsourcing it.

But the Obama campaign notes that people who have bought campaign merchandise only account for about one percent of all of his donors.

"The reason that they're listed as donors is because if they purchase it through the campaign and it goes into the campaign coffers it would be a violation of campaign laws if we did not list that," Obama said Tuesday at an event in Washington, D.C. "So all we're doing is abiding by the law."

CNN Political Editor Mark Preston noted that there is a "whispering campaign that Obama is trying to inflate his donor numbers" which Obama flatly dismissed.

"We're so far ahead of everybody else in terms of the number of donations that we don't need to be playing with the numbers," Obama said at the same event.

And Obama may actually be on to a successful fundraising venture.

"The campaign spokesman tells me that they have raised several hundred thousand dollars through this process," Preston said. "It's a pretty novel way not only to raise money, but also to grow the campaign's small-donor list."

- CNN Deputy Political Editor Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Gatyoung khan

    I never see anyone like Obama who has all the combiantions of good leadership. this man indeed is a keeper of men. He came to my school last week and said what everyone wanted to hear.he is a star

    July 18, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. Brian, Trenton, New Jersey

    Like many others, Senator Obama is the first political candidate that has me excited about what can be accomplished. He has repeatedly said that he can't turn this country around by himself. It will require that a large portion of citizens DEMAND change.

    As for the knock on Senator's Obama experience. I like the fact that he isn't beholden to any special interests and hasn't been in Washington that long. The country is not run by one person alone. They should respond themselves with the best and brightest in their fields. I'm confident Senator Obama will do that when he wins the White House.

    "Experience" can often be over-rated. Governing the State of Texas and watching his father in the White House for 12 years gave President Bush a lot of experience and look where that has brought us.

    July 18, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Jill Chrisco Brown, Carmichael, CA

    What's wrong CNN, the Clinton's pressuring you for bigger support? I proudly wear my "Got Hope?" t-shirt, and if my purchase is considered a contribution, well then I'm proud to say I'm a contributor to his campaign. And the fact that the merchandise is sold directly through his campaign, and not outsourced, makes me respect him even more.

    July 18, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. Jessica Cook, Madisonville, KY

    I agree w/the previous posted who posted this:

    "I’d like to hear more about how Hillary Clinton has taken Lobbyist money, and bought her endorsements, and less of this trying to make Obama look bad but failing miserably press coverage. If trying to make Obama look bad by pointing out his awesome fundraising abilities is all they can come up with on Obama, then that speaks pretty well of him."

    You all are MISSING THE STORY HERE! For crying out loud,, my aunt still thinks he's a MUSLIM because of CNN... Puh-LEEEZE! I've donated multiple times to BARACK OBAMA's campaign. I've bought merch to support him and donated small donations many times. I can't afford to drop 2k each time. I donate as I can afford it BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN THIS MAN AND WHAT HE STANDS FOR.

    You are trying to cheapen his/our victory. YOU CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM US. WE ALL KNOW THE TRUTH.

    BARACK OBAMA 08!!!

    July 18, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Josh, Missouri

    Hey Providence,

    I'm a little confused as to how Barack is a villain. But on to the real problem. If your best argument against Barack is that he said he wouldn't run for president back in 2004, then you should go join you fellow neo-cons in Congress that are continuing to block the wishes of the American people. I bet you voted for Bush when he said he would defend our country look out for the well-being of every citizen. We see how that turned out. Your argumentation skills are impeccable.

    July 18, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  6. Patrice, Fulton, IL

    You left something out. There is more than one reason for the Obama store. A very important one is to insure that all merchandise that carries his logo is made in the USA.

    July 19, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
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