Picking up the pace of his fundraising as the end of the second quarter draws near, Sen. Barack Obama pulled in an estimated $1.5 to $2 million on Friday in Chicago.
The haul was made in less than 10 hours, with the presidential candidate making stops at four events here, a market that has easily proven to be his most lucrative.
"If we didn't have a strong base here, we couldn't do what we are doing in Iowa and New Hampshire," the Illinois Democrat said, as he and his wife entered the back door of Carnivale in the Fulton Market area.
Outside the restaurant, luxury cars were doubled-parked as the valets struggled to keep up with the traffic for a gathering with a suggested minimum admission of $1,000.
The event, believed to have netted between $1 million to $1.5 million, was among the most profitable of Obama's campaign so far. It attracted hundreds of people, with each giving up to $4,600 for his primary and potential general election campaign.
Earlier Friday, Obama attended two fundraisers in private homes and was to cap the evening with a $100-per-person event at Union Station that was targeted toward a younger demographic.
The latest sprint comes as Obama starts an intense period of money raising in advance of the June 30 second-quarter deadline. He is booked for more than 20 fundraisers in the final month of the quarter.
Obama's staff has sought to dampen expectations that he will exceed the $25 million he raised during the first three months of 2007, while sources in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign have said the New York Democrat will likely top the $26 million she raised during that period.
Obama, however, has the largest base of Internet donors among Democratic candidates. That could help him further expand on the amount he raised during the first quarter, a total that surprised many.
After briefly traveling to Iowa Saturday to kick off a nationwide door-to-door canvass for his campaign, Obama will start a major West Coast fundraising tour Sunday.
Obama's latest fundraisers were held the same day the Tribune reported he is giving to charity more than $16,000 in campaign donations from two Chicago businessmen who had financial ties to indicted dealmaker Antoin "Tony" Rezko.
Rezko, a former friend and fundraiser who has become a public relations problem for Obama's presidential bid, has pleaded not guilty to federal influence peddling and bank fraud charges.
The latest incident marked the fourth time Obama has shed contributions made by Rezko and associates to his previous campaigns, totaling more than $33,000.
Outside the restaurant, Obama said the money was given to charity because he "wanted to make sure there were no questions with respect to this campaign."
Clinton, meanwhile, will hold a high-dollar event at the Palmer House Hilton on June 25. That event, her second here in as many months, is expected to net at least $250,000.