By  on May 8, 2007

WASHINGTON — If the fashion industry were deciding the presidential election right now, there would be a second President Clinton in the White House.

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken a strong lead in campaign contributions from the industry in the early rounds of the 2008 campaign.

Clinton is outdoing Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has received the most funds among Republicans from the industry. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has also gotten substantial financial and anecdotal backing from the fashion world.

Also receiving support are Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has overtaken Romney in recent nationwide polling for second place among Republicans, behind Giuliani, and former Sen. John Edwards (D., N.C.) running third among his party's candidates, behind Clinton and Obama.

The 2008 presidential election will be the first time since 1952 that no incumbent president or vice president is running. Some of the leading candidates in the 2008 race would, if elected, make history in the Oval Office, as the first woman, first African-American or first Mormon president.

The elections also come at a time of public disenchantment with President Bush and the Iraq war, and on the heels of the Democrats seizing control of Congress last year and seeking to maintain that power and retake the White House.

In the first quarter of the year, statistics based on individual contributions show apparel and accessories specialty retail executives and employees gave $65,150 to presidential candidates, 88 percent of it to Democrats, according to The Center for Responsive Politics. Clothing and accessories manufacturers gave $125,850 to the candidates and Democrats received 73 percent of that total. Department stores, including Wal-Mart, gave $39,570 to the candidates, mostly to Republicans, who got 79 percent of the total. (For a look at some individual campaign contributions, see the box on this page.)

Clinton received the highest contributions from individual donors in the fashion industry, netting $70,250 in the first quarter from the apparel sector, and $38,300 from specialty retailers and a handful of department stores. Among her contributors was J. Crew chairman and chief executive officer Millard Drexler and Oscar de la Renta.

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