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London swells war chests for US presidential


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October 22, 2007

London swells war chests for US presidential rivals

Justin Gest

London has become a cash cow for US presidential candidates seeking to fund their 2008 White House bids, with almost half of all overseas donations coming from the capital.

Research by The Times reveals that presidential hopefuls have already raised more than $1 million (£485,000) abroad in 2007 - more than a year before the election - of which 40 per cent came from London. The figures are ten times the aggregate reportedly raised abroad in the first three quarters of 2003, the year before the last presidential election.

In a sign of Britain’s importance to the campaigns, Michelle Obama, wife of the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, headlined a fundraiser for her husband’s bid in a Central London hotel last week. Last month Rudy Giuliani, the Republican candidate and former New York City Mayor, hosted a similar event in Knightsbridge.

According to The Times’s analysis of US government records, more than 40 per cent of all money donated this year by US citizens living outside America comes from Britain – and almost all of that from within London.

The donations made so far are expected to rise dramatically after US primary elections determine the Democrat and Republican nominees next spring. Afterwards, fundraising rules allow campaigns to solicit further donations toward the general election next November.

US fundraising laws also dictate that only American citizens may contribute to candidates’ war chests, but this includes a very large number of business people, diplomats, students, and military personnel and other expatriates dispersed around the world.

Current estimates of Americans living abroad range from four to seven million people – a population greater than the totals in 24 US states. So when they see that a speech in West London can raise as much money as an event in West Los Angeles, candidates take notice.

Mr Obama and Mr Giuliani have led their party rivals in British fundraising in the third quarter of this year, according to US Federal Election Commission records. The amounts are small compared with the amount raised domestically, but every little helps in the competitive primary round.

Mr Obama has raised £36,000 in the past three months in Britain, while Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has collected £18,000. Mr Giuliani leads Republican contenders with £18,000 from Britain, while his rivals, Senator John McCain and the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, raised £2,200 and £1,600 respectively.

“There are 250,000 Americans in the UK,” said Iwan Morgan, a professor of American studies at the University of London. “A lot of them are university-educated, middle-income or better, and they probably have strong political interests. So they are a natural constituency to tap into.”

Tickets to Mrs Obama’s speech last week ranged from £25 for students to £2,200 - the legal maximum - for VIPs, paying for some early “face time” with the candidate’s wife.

“If someone had told me ten months ago that I would be standing in London in support of my husband’s bid for the presidency, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy’,” Mrs Obama said, opening her address last Monday in front of a giant American flag.

Full story, Source: The Times

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London will fund Clinton and Giuliani. They won't fund Ron Paul, perhaps they are nervous about him winning.

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US fundraising laws also dictate that only American citizens may contribute to candidates’ war chests, but this includes a very large number of business people, diplomats, students, and military personnel and other expatriates dispersed around the world.

So really the story is "Americans who happen to live in London raise money for American presidential candidates shocker".

£1 million could be raised by one person. Pointless story.

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