Fund-Raising: The Latest Presidential Returns

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More so than in most arenas, in politics money talks. So here's what the latest campaign finance statements for the first quarter of the year are saying about some of the better-known presidential contenders. On the Democratic side, Al Gore as expected won the fund-raising race with $8.9 million raked in. But surprisingly, ex-senator Bill Bradley, a New Jerseyan not particularly noted for his charisma, came in a strong second with $4.3 million. "Despite Gore's incredible list of endorsements and the perception he's an unbeatable force," says TIME Washington correspondent John Dickerson, "the figures suggest Bradley may be staying around to give Gore a good run." The veep suddenly looks more vulnerable. He'll have to plan spending more time, energy and resources to get a Democratic nomination many had thought to be his for the taking.

More than ever, the Republicans look as if they have a bright star in the making with George W. Bush. "His numbers are extraordinary," says Dickerson. Without having held a single fund-raising event, the Texas governor attracted $7.6 million. Bush easily eclipsed all his other rivals, including Elizabeth Dole, the other big name in the GOP contest. Dole raised less than $1 million, suggesting she may be following a dangerous family tradition set by her husband in his failed presidential bid: a slow start. "She hasn't put anything in place quickly," says Dickerson. "She's only announcing her New Hampshire team this coming week." Another big money drawer was former vice president Dan Quayle with $2.1 million. His good showing indicates the GOP contest will contain plenty of thunder from the right.