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Last Updated: Friday, 21 March 2008, 16:11 GMT

Democratic rivals spend millions

Hillary Clinton campaigns in Terre Haute, Indiana, 20 March 2008
Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama are battling to be the Democrats' choice

Finance reports show Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spent huge sums in February while competing to be the Democratic choice to run for president.

Mr Obama spent at a rate of nearly $1.5 million (760,000) a day through the month, when some of the biggest primary contests were held. He raised $55.4m.

Mrs Clinton spent about $1m a day and raised $34.5m, according to her report to the Federal Election Commission.

John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, raised $11m in February.

Aides to his campaign said he had paid back a $4m loan that was the subject of discussion with the FEC over whether it had been secured with the promise of public funding. His lawyers said it had been guaranteed with other assets.

Mr McCain has now spent more than the $50m limit allowed under the public funding system, having decided to forfeit matching funds from the government.

Record levels

The huge spending by the Democratic contenders reflects the importance of the Super Tuesday contests on 5 February, when more than 20 states voted, and subsequent primaries that month.

Barack Obama campaigns in Beckley, West Virginia, 20 March 2008
Mr Obama raised more than $55m in February and spent nearly $43m

It also reflects record levels of fundraising by both the Clinton and Obama campaigns through the primary season.

Mr Obama's campaign told the FEC he had spent $42.7m in February and, at the end of the month, still had nearly $39m cash on hand. Of that, $7m can only be used on a general election campaign.

Mrs Clinton spent $31.6m and had $33m in the bank at the end of the month, her campaign said. However, $21.7m of that is reserved for a general election campaign.

The New York senator also has greater liabilities than her rival, reporting $8.7m in debt compared with $625,000 for Mr Obama.

Both are focusing their campaign efforts - and spending - on forthcoming contests in Pennsylvania, on 22 April, and beyond.

Ralph Nader, who announced he was launching a third-party candidacy in February, reported raising $280,000 in February, on top of a $40,000 personal donation to his own campaign.

Republican Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas who announced he was "winding down" his campaign earlier this month, reported raising $1.7m in February, the FEC said.

Mr Paul made headlines last December when he raised almost $6m in 24 hours in an online fundraising drive that attracted more than 50,000 donors, half of them new.

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