via NY Times
CHICAGO — Senator Barack Obama raised more money in August than any presidential candidate has ever recorded in a one-month period, with his campaign disclosing on Sunday that it collected $66 million and drew 500,000 first-time donors to his candidacy.
The record-setting figures and particularly the new supporters who can contribute again before Election Day were crucial for Mr. Obama, who was heading into the general election as the first major-party candidate to forgo public financing. The campaign amassed its millions of dollars through an aggressive Internet drive, by attracting some of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s donors and as concerns increased over a tightening contest.
David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager, said more than 2.5 million people had contributed since the race began.
“The 500,000 new donors to the Obama campaign demonstrate just how strongly the American people are looking to kick the special interests out and change Washington,” Mr. Plouffe said in an e-mail message on Sunday.
While the amount surpassed the previous record of $55 million set in February by Mr. Obama, it is in line with ambitious goals his campaign set in June, when he decided to back away from his pledge to take public financing. Mr. Obama may need to match or even exceed the new record this month and next to compete with Senator John McCain and the Republican National Committee.
Even with the impressive August fund-raising, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee appear to have started September with slightly less at their disposal than Mr. McCain and the Republican National Committee for the general election sprint.
Mr. McCain set a personal record in August by raising $47 million. And Republicans started September with just more than $100 million, according to party officials and fund-raisers for Mr. McCain. That amount reflects money coming from the national committee, a balance left in Mr. McCain’s primary account that has been transferred to the party, and money held in a joint account for both entities, as well as several state parties.
Mr. Plouffe said Sunday that the Obama campaign began September with $77 million in its bank account. Democratic officials said the party raised about $17 million in August and finished with a similar amount in the bank. The combined total gave Democrats an estimated $94 million in available cash for the presidential race. There is greater urgency, though, on behalf of Mr. Obama’s campaign since he did not receive $84 million from the Treasury — as Mr. McCain did — when he formally accepted his party’s nomination.
It was not yet clear how much the four-day Democratic National Convention at the end of August — designed to show Democrats, including former supporters of Mrs. Clinton, coalescing around Mr. Obama — drove a surge in contributions. Nor was it clear how much of the money came in after Aug. 29, when Mr. McCain announced Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate.
By this point in presidential campaigns, candidates usually step aside and let their party organizations raise money for advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts, but Mr. Obama’s schedule is filled with fund-raising events. He will take time away from campaigning in battleground states and fly Tuesday to California for a reception and a dinner in Beverly Hills. On Friday, he is scheduled to raise money at two galas in Miami.
The Obama campaign is also getting outside help, including from Mrs. Clinton, of New York, who appeared at a $1,000-per-plate dessert reception on Sunday at a home in Wilmette, Ill.
Over all, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, has collected more than $440 million so far in contributions, shattering previous records. The monthly record before Mr. Obama’s candidacy was $44 million, which Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts collected in March 2004 after he clinched the Democratic nomination.
While Mr. McCain is scheduled to appear at four fund-raisers in the next two months, others are raising money for him. Members of his fund-raising team said they hoped to bring in an additional $100 million, which would give the campaign and the national committee about $300 million for advertising, get-out-the-vote efforts and other priorities.
A full analysis of how the campaigns are raising and spending their money will not be available until Sept. 20, when they file their reports with the Federal Election Commission. But judging from what both campaigns raised and had left in the bank at the end of the month, it appears that Mr. Obama only slightly outspent Mr. McCain in August, a stark contrast to the previous month. Mr. McCain, of Arizona, appeared to have spent just over $50 million in August, up from the $32 million he spent in July, while Mr. Obama spent about $55 million, a similar amount to the prior month.
In the final two months of the campaign, Ms. Palin has created new fund-raising opportunities for both parties. Mr. Obama’s campaign said $10 million was raised in the 24 hours after Ms. Palin accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination, and she has continued to help energize Democratic donors.
At the same time, Republican officials said Ms. Palin’s presence in the race have rallied the party’s large and small contributors, quadrupling online fund-raising.
While Mr. McCain and his party are expected to have similar resources, the Obama campaign will have more control over how it spends its money because the bulk is being raised directly for its coffers. And Mr. McCain will face an array of restrictions in how he can use the money raised by the national committee.