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As the March 31 first-quarter deadline approaches in this year's presidential money-raising race, two things seem certain: Sen. Barack Obama will exceed even his rapidly-rising expectations, and Sen. John McCain will not raise enough to justify what many Republican insiders regard as an over-staffed, top-heavy campaign structure that has guided him out of frontrunner status.

On the Dem side, Obama' drive and diligence continues to impress even some of Hillary's top people. "Everybody I call he has already called," said one top Hillary fundraiser. At least one of these people has warned the candidate not to expect a slam-dunk money win in the quarter. Some of the more senior types, who go back to the Bill Clinton days, have other time commitments besides dialing for dollars. "The Obama people are fresh and hungry," said this funder. "I'm impressed."

On the GOP side, the word is that Rudy Giuliani s going strong after a fitful start. McCain is doing well enough, but critics say he is spending too much of it too early. "Wait'll you see the expenditure report," said one. "That's going to be the story."

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