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posted: 7/17/2011 6:07 AM

Obama raises $86 million for re-election

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  • President Barack Obama kicked off his re-election fundraising campaign with three events in Chicago. So far, he's collected $86 million.

    President Barack Obama kicked off his re-election fundraising campaign with three events in Chicago. So far, he's collected $86 million.
    Associated Press

Bloomberg News

President Barack Obama's re-election effort raised more than $86 million during the quarter that ended June 30, his campaign said in an email to supporters.

The total is a combined number collected by Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee, including money received by the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising body run by the two entities. The release also highlighted the 552,462 individuals who donated money, saying it shows the president can recapture the grass-roots support that added momentum to his 2008 campaign.

"We have reason to be proud of what we have built so far, but it's going to get tougher from here," Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager and a former deputy White House chief of staff, said in a video to supporters. "Our job is to bring more people into this campaign."

Obama's fundraising contrasts with that of the Republican field seeking to challenge him. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who polls show is the leading contender for the 2012 Republican nomination, said he raised $18.3 million during the second quarter. That figure doesn't include the money raised by the Republican National Committee.

Messina said Obama for America raised more than $47 million, while the DNC had raised more than $38 million. The president's campaign had set a second-quarter goal of raising a joint $60 million for the DNC and the Obama bid.

Among Republicans who have announced their second-quarter fundraising totals, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas said he took in more than $4.5 million; former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty raised about $4.2 million; and the campaign of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman said it collected $4.1 million, including personal money from the candidate.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who saw more than a dozen of his campaign staff members resign June 9, reported raising $2 million and being $1 million in debt.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who formally announced her candidacy on June 27, has not yet released her total for the quarter. She had $2.9 million in her congressional campaign account as of March 31, all of which could be used for a presidential run.

Detailed disclosures are due to the Federal Election Commission by midnight on Friday.

Messina has tried to damp predictions that the president will raise $1 billion for the 2012 campaign. Still, Obama has maintained a fundraising schedule that has included almost 30 donor events since January for his campaign, his party, or both.

His efforts helped the Democratic National Committee outpace its Republican counterpart so far this year. Through May 31, the DNC had taken in $45.5 million, compared with $30.5 million collected by the RNC, according to FEC records.

In presidential campaigns, the national party can coordinate some of its advertising with its nominee and underwrite Election Day get-out-the-vote programs.

Obama kicked off fundraising for his own campaign with three events on April 14 in Chicago, where his re-election bid has its headquarters. His top bundlers, who solicit money from a wide circle of donors, have been asked to collect at least $350,000 this year alone. Four years ago, members of Obama's national finance committee were instructed to raise $250,000 for the 2007-08 election cycle.

The higher bar has been set in part because Democrats don't know whether Obama will be helped or hurt by Republican efforts to handicap labor, a big source of Democratic money. The governors of Wisconsin and Ohio have signed bills making it harder for unions to collect dues.

In addition, the campaign is anticipating a new threat: Negative ads launched by independent Republican groups created during the 2010 midterms.

The outside groups can accept unlimited donations, and many do not have to disclose their donors because they are classified by the Internal Revenue Service as charitable social welfare groups. They are banned from coordinating their activity with candidate campaign committees, a hurdle easily surmounted by the like-minded party strategists present inside the groups.

American Crossroads and its sister organization, American Crossroads GPS, were organized with the help of Karl Rove, the top political adviser to former President George W. Bush. Officials with American Crossroads have said they intend to raise a combined $120 million for the 2012 election cycle.

David Axelrod, one of the president's top campaign strategists, said last year that he expects American Crossroads and other conservative groups to spend a combined $500 million to oust the president.

Democrats have responded by creating their own independent groups, Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action, to counter the American Crossroads ads. Priorities USA is run by a coalition of party insiders, including former White House spokesman Bill Burton. They have set an initial fundraising goal of $100 million for the 2012 season.

Unlike his other primary opponents, Romney allies have created their own outside committee, Restore Our Future PAC, to bolster his campaign. The PAC's treasurer is Charles R. Spies, who served as Romney's general counsel in his 2008 White House bid. Restore Our Future reported raising $12 million in the first six months of this year.