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Howard Dean's Fundraising Success Marks Him as Serious Presidential Contender - 2003-07-01

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean has raised more money during the past three months than any of his rivals for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. It is the latest indication that Mr. Dean is becoming a serious contender in the 2004 race for the White House.

Although he may not be well known nationally, Mr. Dean appears to be having some success in changing that.

The Dean campaign has effectively used the Internet to both raise money and sign up thousands of volunteers around the country. Mr. Dean raised about $7 million in the past three months, more than any of the other eight Democrats running for president.

Money-raising prowess is considered a key indicator of whether a presidential campaign is gaining or losing momentum, and the Dean campaign is clearly gaining among liberal Democrats.

The former governor made a name for himself early on in the crowded Democratic field with his strong opposition to the war in Iraq. During a recent appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Mr. Dean criticized the Bush administration for being too willing to use military force instead of diplomacy to deal with adversaries around the world.

"We have got to take on a different posture in the world where we do not simply push everybody aside who disagrees with us without trying to actually accomplish some things through diplomatic means," the candidate said.

Other Democrats who maintained a healthy pace of fundraising during the past few months include Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Trailing behind were Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt and Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman.

Despite the Dean success in fundraising, none of the Democrats has come anywhere near President George W. Bush's record-setting pace. The president is on track for a total of about $30 million raised so far for his re-election effort, including $3 million Monday during fundraising stops in Florida.

"This nation has acted decisively to confront great challenges," said Mr. Bush. "I came to office to solve problems, not to pass them on to future presidents and future generations."

The Bush fundraising juggernaut could total about $200 million by next year. That will come in handy when the nine Democratic candidates battle one another in a host of party caucuses and primaries early in 2004. During that time the president will have the luxury of running extensive television advertisements touting his achievements for re-election while the Democrats presumably attack each other.