WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama burned through nearly $116 million in September, close to twice as much as Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to reports filed Saturday, highlighting the divergent strategies of the two candidates as they headed into the final stretch of the White House race.
Obama has kept up a costly but unrelenting press against his competitor through the summer and fall, pumping nearly $300 million into television ads in the general election so far, according to a Republican source tracking ad buys. Romney – backed by an array of outside groups spending hundreds of millions on his behalf – largely stockpiled his resources and then unleashed a major air barrage beginning this month. He has spent almost $166 million on ads in the general election.
Both candidates saw a surge in donations in September. Obama, together with the Democratic National Committee and two joint fundraising committees, brought in $181 million. Romney and his affiliated committees raised $170 million.
But Obama is raising a larger share of his cash in small donations that go directly to his campaign committee, giving him more flexibility in how to spend it. Obama for America got $96.3 million in contributions in September, while Romney for President raised $41.9 million.
That could explain why the GOP nominee’s campaign actually spent slightly less in September than it did in August – $65 million, down from $66 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The bulk went to media ads: $37 million, less than half of the $88 million Obama’s campaign spent on commercials.
Romney’s campaign also paid off $10 million on a $20 million loan it took out in late August. The campaign has a remaining debt of $5 million on the loan.
By the end of the month, Obama’s campaign had $99 million in the bank, while Romney’s campaign had $63 million. But including their party fundraising committees, Romney entered October with more cash on hand than Obama, $191 million to $150 million.
The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future’s September haul was double that of August, thanks to nearly 40 six- and seven-figure donations. The largest: a $2 million contribution from Bob Perry, the Houston homebuilder who has given a total of $9 million to the group this cycle. Oxbow Carbon LLC, the energy company owned by William Koch, gave $1 million, as did Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and Missouri construction executive Stanley Herzog.
For a second month in a row, Restore Our Future was edged out in fundraising by its pro-Obama counterpart, Priorities USA Action, which pulled in $15.25 million in September, its best month yet. Two other Democratic super PACs that focus on congressional races, House Majority PAC and Majority PAC, also had their strongest fundraising months in September.