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Graham’s Late-Starting Campaign Checks in With $1 Million Raised

Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.) raised more than $1 million for his presidential campaign last month, posting a fundraising figure that is far behind his contenders but at least meets expectations for a bid that has been delayed by the Democrat’s heart surgery and war in Iraq.

In a release announcing first-quarter fundraising totals and new staff hires Monday, Graham noted that he had only been able to raise money during the last three weeks of March and just through phone calls. His report to the Federal Election Commission will show $1,055,000 raised, and his campaign said he has more than $1 million in the bank. No funds from his Senate campaign account were transferred into the presidential account.

Graham was set to announce his bid in February, but in the course of a checkup the Senator learned he needed to have heart surgery, a move that kept him out of pocket for most of that month. When war with Iraq broke out March 19, Graham decided against any overtly public campaign events. As he told Roll Call last week, he had hoped to officially announce his entrance into the race today in Florida, followed by a whistle-stop tour of key battleground states.

Instead, he’s beginning the public side of the race with a few low-key events in Florida, then a swing through California and New Hampshire all next week.

Graham used the down time to make phone calls raising money and to assemble his top staff. His release today announced the hiring of Struble Eichenbaum Communications to handle the media side of the campaign. He also continues to snap up people with connections to former Sen. Bob Kerrey’s (D-Neb.) political team.

In addition to campaign manager Paul Johnson and Communications Director Steve Jarding — whose hires were already announced late last month — Graham has brought on Cindy Dwyer as his campaign scheduler. She held that role for Kerrey, as well as for Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.).

In the key primary state of New Hampshire, Steve Bouchard is in charge. Bouchard was most recently field director for now-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner’s (D) 2001 campaign, which was run by Jarding.

Johnson and Jarding, longtime political operatives for Kerrey, have also brought in a pair of top staffers for former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.). Tommy Thompson, who ran Cleland’s unsuccessful 2002 re-election bid, and Jamal Simmons, who was the Georgian’s spokesman, are on board for Graham as well. Thompson, who was an aide to Johnson when he was executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee under Kerrey, will serve the Graham campaign as a political adviser. Simmons will be press secretary.

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