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CAMPAIGN '08: THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS

Obama raises $36 million in the first half of October

The pace of donations slows, but he appears on track to outspend McCain in the final days of the campaign.

October 24, 2008|Dan Morain | Morain is a Times staff writer.

Barack Obama disclosed Thursday that he raised $35.9 million in the first 15 days of October, after a jaw-dropping $150 million in September.

Although his fundraising pace slowed, Obama's September-October surge all but guarantees that he will outspend John McCain and the Republican National Committee in the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign.

The latest fundraising numbers provide further evidence that Obama made the correct decision when he opted not to take federal funds for the general election campaign, instead relying on his ever-growing donor base of more than 3 million -- whose average donation size is $86.

McCain, by contrast, accepted a federal grant of $84.1 million. That money must last from the beginning of September through Nov. 4, although the RNC also can raise money and spend it on his behalf.

Obama and the Democratic National Committee are poised to outspend McCain by as much as a 3-2 margin, the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute concluded.

Obama and the DNC spent $134.1 million in September, far more than the $108.6 million spent by McCain and the RNC.

In the first 15 days of October, Obama and the DNC spent a combined $117.6 million. That compares with $67 million by McCain and the RNC.

Obama had $65.7 million in the bank for the final three weeks of the campaign, plus a combined $30 million held by the DNC and a separate committee that Obama and the DNC control.

McCain and the RNC entered the campaign's final three weeks with a combined $84.4 million in the bank. The RNC raised what was, for it, a record $66 million in September, but failed to maintain that pace in the first half of October, when it raised $27 million.

McCain and Obama continued to use a legal loophole that allowed them to raise money for party committees far in excess of the $4,600 maximum that individual donors can give to their presidential accounts.

The RNC drew $2.6 million in donations of $10,000 or more, including $28,500 from Facundo and Elizabeth Bacardi, the rum producers.

Obama, using a so-called joint fundraising committee, raised more than $9.9 million in donations of $10,000 or more, including $30,800 each from Sam and Tillie Walton of the Wal-Mart fortune. Jerry Yang, head of Yahoo, also donated $30,800.

Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, wife Marilyn and their daughter, Laura, each donated $28,500. Producer Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw, also donated $28,500 each.

Obama raised $18,500 from professional poker player Howard Lederer and the same amount from Lederer's wife, Susan, who listed her occupation as casino pit manager at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

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dan.morain@latimes.com

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