John McCain raised $27 million in July, his largest one-month fundraising haul since clinching the Republican presidential nomination, while the Republican National Committee brought in nearly $26 million.
The GOP nominee-in-waiting had $21 million to spend as August began and the national party started the month with $75 million to compete with the Democrats.
"Our fundraising continues to be very healthy," Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, said in a conference call with reporters, noting that July was the fifth-straight month McCain has improved his cash flow. He said the money came from 600,000 donors, who are part of the GOP's 1.5 million donors.
Comparatively, Democratic rival Barack Obama recently surpassed 2 million contributors. He and the Democratic National Committee have not yet disclosed their monthly takes.
Republicans have been trying to even out the financial playing field in this campaign after trailing Democrats in overall fundraising for most of the election cycle. The July numbers show they are making strides with McCain and the RNC combined raising $53 million, with $96 million to spend this month.
"We will start the general election fully flush," Davis said, putting the budget for September, October and the first few days of November at more than $100 million — including $84 million in taxpayer money and accounts the RNC shares with the campaign.
McCain has agreed to accept public financing for the general election and the spending restraints that come with it. Though the Republican Party can raise and spend as much as it wants to help him, the taxpayer money is the only cash that McCain can spend after accepting his party's nomination at the convention in early September. He essentially needs to drain down his privately funded campaign bank account this month.
That explains, for example, why he can afford to spend some $6 million to run TV advertising during the Olympics this month, and why his overall advertising budget for August is expected to exceed $20 million. Despite lackluster fundraising earlier this year, he has been able to blanket 11 battleground states with multimillion-dollars worth of commercials — and stay on the air — since first advertising in earnest in early June.
By the convention, Davis said McCain is on track to spending some $60 million on TV expenditures.
Obama, a prolific fundraiser emboldened by record-shattering collections in the primary, decided to forgo public financing for the general election and became the first major-party presidential candidate in three decades to do so. That means he needs to rely on his significant fundraising capabilities to build up his cash reserves going into the fall, whereas McCain needs to deplete his.
McCain's last month total exceeded his $21 million June collection, at that point his best fundraising month; Obama raised more than twice that at $52 million.
Not counting July, Obama overall has raised about $340 million to McCain's nearly $140 million.
However, the RNC has far outraised its Democratic counterpart, helping McCain and the GOP draw even or near even with Obama and the DNC.