Obama close to raising $1 billion after near-record September

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, which only two months ago fretted that it was losing the money race to Republican challenger Mitt Romney, said Saturday it was on the cusp of raising $1 billion for the 2012 election after posting its strongest fundraising month of the year.

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $181 million last month, easily eclipsing the $114 million that they had raised together in August. The number falls just shy of the all-time monthly record of $193 million, however, which was set by Obama in September 2008.

Campaign manager Jim Messina wrote in an email to supporters that Obama’s fundraising efforts in 2012 mark “a historic record for grass-roots politics.” The campaign says it has collected more than 10 million individual donations so far this year.

The September haul caps a turnaround in Obama’s financial status since May. He fell behind his Republican opponent in monthly fundraising through July, but he edged out Romney in August, $114 million to $112 million.

Obama has raised nearly half his money through small donations with aggressive solicitation programs targeting email, social media and cellphone texting services. Last month’s fundraising also included the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and a notable bump in the polls for the president in subsequent weeks.

The impressive fundraising total comes on the heels of Obama’s widely panned performance at the first presidential debate in Denver. Romney’s campaign has not announced a September fundraising total yet but said it had a surge in donations this week after the debate.

The September tally means Obama is close to surpassing his total fundraising for 2008, when the campaign and the DNC jointly brought in just under $1 billion overall. He and his allies, including super PACs, had raised about $780 million through August, Federal Election Commission data show. Romney and his supporters had raised about the same, but much more of it has come from well-funded super PACs that are not bound by political contribution limits.

The Obama campaign said Saturday that out of 1.83 million individual donors in September, nearly 570,000 had never given before in 2012 or 2008.

Even with the good numbers, the president’s reelection campaign is still pushing for more.

“There is exactly one month left to go until Election Day,” Messina wrote in his e-mail. “The stakes are too high for us to take our foot off the gas now. Chip in … and let’s go win.”

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