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Obama far outpaces GOP candidates in fundraising

ElectionsPoliticsSocial IssuesRepublican PartyCharityGeorge W. Bush

President Obama's reelection campaign raked in $86 million in the second quarter of the year, far eclipsing the amounts raised by his Republican opponents and bolstering his accounts for an ongoing clash with well-funded GOP-allied groups.

The haul highlighted the fundraising advantages of incumbency: The entire field of Republican candidates is expected to report raising about $35 million.

Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, touted the tally in a video message to supporters released Wednesday. Details on how Obama and the other candidates have been raising and spending campaign cash will be made public Friday, when the campaigns file reports with the Federal Election Commission. Obama's report alone is expected to be more than 15,000 pages long.

In his message, Messina noted that the president would have to contend not only with the GOP candidates but with the better-funded outside groups, which can raise and spend undisclosed amounts of money. In recent months, groups aligned with Republicans have poured tens of millions of dollars into unusually early and expensive advertising campaigns aimed against Obama and other Democrats.

"This is a whole new ballgame, like we've never faced before," Messina said.

Obama raised more than $47 million through his presidential campaign and more than $38 million jointly with the Democratic National Committee, which can collect much larger sums. The total broke the previous second-quarter record of $35 million raised by George W. Bush's reelection effort in 2003. The record for any quarter in a preelection year is $50 million, achieved by Bush in the third quarter of 2003.

Messina said the campaign received contributions from 550,000 individuals, more than the total number of donors who contributed in all of 2007. More than 260,000 of the donors are "completely new to the Obama organization and have never given before," he said.

The vast majority of contributions, 98%, came in the form of donations of $250 or less, Messina said.

But wealthy donors also played a role. In recent months, the campaign has reinforced efforts to court large-dollar donors, organizing a series of events with the DNC.

The campaign also recently launched Presidential Partners, a fundraising apparatus that asks supporters to commit a total of $75,800 over the next two years. By mid-June, about 115 donors had signed up, according to campaign officials.

Obama's closest competitor in the GOP field, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, says he will report $18 million collected during the second quarter. In addition, an independent group supporting Romney says it has raised more than $12 million this year.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus brushed aside the president's fundraising numbers.

"I think we're going to have total saturation on both sides of the aisle," Priebus said. "And this election is going to come down to one question, which is: Am I better off today than I was four years ago? And the answer to that question is clearly no."

kim.geiger@latimes.com

tom.hamburger@latimes.com

Matea Gold and Michael Memoli in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

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