Mr. Obama, who spent campaign dollars furiously in the last weeks of his run for the White House, was elected on Nov. 4 with a reported $30 million leftover in campaign funds. In contrast to his Republican opponent, who was restricted to the $84-million limit involved with accepting public financing, Mr. Obama spent more than $136 million from Oct. 26 until Nov. 24. McCain spent $26.5 million in the same period.
In the last two months of the campaign, Mr. Obama spent nearly $170 million on television advertisements, Campaign Media Analysis Group reported to the Associated Press.
Throughout the course of the campaign, Mr. Obama reported taking in about $104 million in contributions, $36 million of which was donated in the first half of October, according to the New York Times.
The FEC figures indicate that Mr. Obama’s final haul was $100 million more than Democratic candidate John Kerry and Republican winner George W. Bush’s combined $650 million haul in 2004.
Mr. Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to forgo public financing since the 1970s, and campaign advisers estimated he’d need to double McCain’s contributions in order to defeat his opponent. Final fundraising numbers show the Democrat surpassing McCain nearly three to one. During the primaries, McCain only raised $220 million, compared to Mr. Obama’s $410 million.
The president-elect’s fundraising ability bodes well for a possible run for a second term in 2012 and will provide a steep challenge to any presidential rivals, experts say.
“Assuming Obama runs again and his fundraising prowess is sustained, then it will be a daunting undertaking for any opponent,” said Kenneth Gross, a campaign finance lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher and Flom told the New York Times.
As the president-elect prepares for his inauguration, his campaign is turning its fundraising abilities to help former Democratic rival and Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton ease her $7.5 million in campaign debt.
In an e-mail to donors Friday, the Obama campaign urged supporters to help Mr. Obama fulfill “an outstanding commitment we made during the election,” the AP reported.
Federal campaign rules prevent Clinton from “personally soliciting, accepting or receiving political contributions,” which means Clinton’s political action committee must raise money without her direct involvement, making it more difficult to reach out to potential donors.
“People write a check to get into the room with a candidate or government official,” Sheila Krumholz, director of the Center for Responsive Politics told the AP. “If she’s legally barred from fundraising, the No. 1 reason for giving has been removed.”
The campaign for Mr. Obama, whose long primary race with Clinton ended with a pledge of his assistance, emphasized in its letter Clinton’s vital role in the Democratic Party and the new administration.
“We welcome Hillary as a partner in our administration, and I hope you will show your support by helping Barack fulfill our campaign promise,” the letter said.