HILLARY RAISES BIG...

HILLARY RAISES BIG BUCKS IN TEXAS BUSH COUNTRY. Senator Clinton did a great deal of fundraising around the country in March, and her private fundraising schedule -- which was passed along by a source -- shows that she raked in big bucks in that most impenetrable of red-state strongholds: Texas.

The schedule lists a dozen events in four states, in the space of just two months, March and April. This is very significant, because all the activity shows just how determined Hillary's advisers are to stockpile an enormous campaign warchest at a time when she is facing only token opposition for reelection in 2006 -- something which of course will only fuel speculation that her fundraising right now is also about scaring off potential Dem challengers in 2008.

On March 21, the schedule shows, Hillary quietly slipped off to Texas for an unpublicized swing through that state, where the junior senator from the ultimate blue state raked in as much as $4,200-per-person in some of the most red-hued of venues. For instance, one event was a breakfast at, of all places, the Dallas Petroleum Club, a mahogany-festooned enclave whose president was once Ray Hunt, a top Bush fundraiser and oilman. She also had a fundraising event at a barbeque in San Antonio and an event crowded with high-tech entrepreneurs in Austin (the state capitol where Bush presided as Texas governor).

Here's something interesting. A source familiar with the Austin event tells me that at least one attendee was surprised by the fact that many who showed up were Republican women, lots of them first-time donors. I mention this not to argue that Hillary has crossover appeal, but to show how aggressively her fundraisers are working to tap diverse constituencies around the country. Her schedule also shows events in Washington, DC, Rhode Island, and Missouri -- an amount of national activity that, for someone who's so far ahead in polls and money for reelection, is striking.

--Greg Sargent

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