WASHINGTON — The Republican National Committee smashed through the $200-million fund-raising mark and entered September with $63 million in the bank, establishing a huge financial advantage over the Democrats.
The Republicans' balance at the beginning of the month was almost as much as the $67.6 million in public funds that the presidential nominees each received to run their fall campaigns.
"It is a virtual doubling of a campaign's advertising budget," former Republican national chairman Richard Bond said Wednesday.
Party officials said they raised $29.3 million last month, $21.5 million of that within federal limits that mean the money can be used to directly aid Republican candidates. Since Jan. 1, 1999, the Republican National Committee has raised about $210 million.
Although trailing the GOP in fund-raising, the Democratic National Committee did take in $26 million at big-ticket events in the four weeks since its national convention, including $5.1 million at a post-convention gala featuring Barbra Streisand and a concert at Radio City Music Hall last week that brought in $6.5 million.
Like Bush, Vice President Al Gore has received $67.6 million for his presidential campaign, but the Democrats will have less money than the GOP to spend separately on his behalf. Party officials declined to say how much less until they release their fund-raising figures on Oct. 15.
"We're going to have enough to be competitive, but we, unlike the Republicans, don't think the party that brings in the most amount of money is the party that wins the race," spokeswoman Jenny Backus said.
But Democratic consultant Peter Fenn said: "If the Republicans are going to spend this kind of money, it makes it tough in battleground states."
Gore reported spending $11.3 million of his $67.6 million during the last two weeks of August--with $9 million going for media.