Republican Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee raised more than $170 million in September, the biggest monthly haul of the campaign, but trailing slightly behind the $181 million collected by President Obama and affiliated Democratic committees last month.
The fundraising left Romney and allied Republican committees with $191million in available cash to spend in the final full month of the presidential contest, and his campaign pushed to raise more.
"With less than a month left, we will continue the hard work of raising the resources to ensure Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can win in November," Spencer Zwick, Romney's top fundraiser said in a statement, as the campaign's top donors and fundraisers gathered Monday for the start of a three-day retreat at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City.
The events include a private party at a midtown Manhattan ballroom where donors can watch televised coverage of Tuesday's town hall presidential debate at Hofstra University in nearby Long Island. Donors also will hear presentations from top campaign strategists and RNC chairman Reince Priebus.
Romney's campaign has relied heavily on larger donors, who can write checks of up to $75,800 to a joint fundraising committee he operates with the Republican National Committee and several state parties. More than $97 million -- or nearly $6 out of every $10 -- Romney and the Republican Party reported raising last month came through the joint fundraising effort, new filings show.
That reliance on big donors puts added pressure on Romney to find fresh sources of cash to sustain his campaign in the final sprint to Election Day.
By contrast, Obama's campaign has drawn on a wider pool of smaller donors that he can tap repeatedly for donations before they hit contribution limits. That frees him to focus more on campaigning and less on fundraising in the weeks ahead.
Filings late Monday from the joint fundraising committee also show that 42 federal lobbyists raised a total of $9million on Romney's behalf between July 1 and Sept. 30.
After marshaling his resources over the summer, Romney has begun an advertising barrage, spending nearly $19million last week alone in nine key battleground states, according to data collected by the National Journal. That tops the $18.1million Obama spent during the same period in those states.
In North Carolina, a state Obama won slightly by more than 14,000 votes four years ago, Romney pumped $1.4million into television commercial last week while Obama spent nearly $830,000. He also outspent the president on the air in Iowa, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Romney's campaign did not say whether the candidate has tapped his fortune. In August, Romney borrowed $20million to remain competitive with Obama, and aides say he did not seek another loan in September.
Obama has not disclosed how much cash he had on the bank at the end of September. Those numbers and other details of both campaigns' fundraising and spending won't come until Saturday when they make disclosures to the Federal Election Commission.
Monday was the deadline for congressional candidates to detail their fundraising to federal regulators.
In one of the nation's most expensive and hotly contested Senate races, Democrat Elizabeth Warren raised $12.1million in the quarter, surging past the nearly $7.5 million collected by Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican she wants to unseat.
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