In March, Obama raises $40 million, doubles Clinton

WASHINGTON

Barack Obama raked in $40 million in March, leaving Hillary Rodham Clinton and her $20 million in the fundraising dust and stuffing his campaign treasury so he can outspend her in the crucial Pennsylvania primary.

His haul in new donations also buttressed his argument to Democratic superdelegates that he has built a vast network of donors and volunteers that they wouldn’t want to lose by denying him the nomination.

Obama has attracted nearly 1.3 million donors, largely through the Internet.

He has raised $131 million in just the first three months of this year to $70 million for Clinton. Republican John McCain’s campaign has not revealed his March fundraising, but he has been far behind the Democrats, raising less than $23 million in January and February combined.

BAGHDAD

Prime minster pledges to continue crackdown

Iraq’s prime minister pledged yesterday to expand his crackdown on Shiite militias to Baghdad, despite a mixed performance so far against militants in the southern city of Basra.

The U.S. ambassador, meanwhile, said that despite a “boatload” of problems with the Basra operation, he was encouraged that the Shiite-led government was finally confronting extremists regardless of their religious affiliation.

Iraqi forces launched a major operation March 25 to rid Basra of Shiite militias and criminal gangs that had effectively ruled the city of 2 million people since 2005. But the offensive stalled in the face of fierce resistance from the militiamen and an uprising across the Shiite south spearheaded by the Mahdi Army of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

HAARE, Zimbabwe

Opposition party’s offices trashed

Intruders ransacked offices of the main opposition party and police detained foreign journalists yesterday in an ominous sign that President Robert Mugabe might turn to intimidation and violence in trying to stave off an electoral threat to his 28-year rule.

Earlier, Mugabe apparently launched his campaign for an expected run-off presidential ballot even before the official results of Saturday’s election were announced, with state media portraying the opposition as divided and controlled by former colonial ruler Britain.

Five days after the vote, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission still had not released results on presidential election despite increasing international pressure, including from former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, who recently mediated an end to Kenya’s postelection violence.

BUCHAREST, Romania

NATO supports missile defense

NATO allies gave President Bush strong support yesterday for a missile defense system in Europe and urged Moscow to drop its angry opposition to the program. The unanimous decision strengthened Bush’s hand for weekend talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was “a breakthrough document on missile defense for the alliance.” At Bush’s first NATO summit in 2001, “perhaps only two allies gave even lukewarm support for the notion of missile defense,” Rice said.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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