WASHINGTON – Democrat John Kerry (search), far behind President Bush in fund raising, has collected more than $80 million this year, reaching his goal three months ahead of schedule, his campaign announced Thursday.
The campaign said it has a new goal for 2004, to raise another $20 million — for a total of $100 million — before the Democratic National Convention (search) begins in late July.
Kerry's campaign in March announced plans to raise $80 million before the convention, in part through a 20-city fund-raising tour that ends Friday in St. Louis and was expected to bring in $20 million.
The tour raised $34 million, the campaign said, exceeding expectations by $14 million.
Overall, more than $34 million came in over the campaign's Web site, and at least $12 million was raised through mail and telephone solicitations. Donations have come from more than 400,000 people, the campaign said.
Last year, the Massachusetts senator and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee brought in $25 million. When added to his 2004 total thus far, Kerry has raised more than $105 million for his White House bid.
That figure roughly matches the record $106 million that Bush raised for his campaign during the 2000 primaries.
Despite his recent success, however, Kerry still has a long way to match Bush's fund raising this year.
The Republican incumbent has raised more than $185 million since launching his re-election effort last May, and has spent about one-third of it, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The two candidates have been setting fund-raising records all year, in part because this is the first time both major-party nominees have skipped public financing for the primaries. That frees them from the program's $45 million spending limit and allows them to spend as much as they can raise before the political conventions.
Both are expected to accept full government financing for their general election campaigns.
Kerry's fund-raising tour touched more than a dozen cities. He set a one-night record by raising $6.5 million in New York, and a Boston record of $4.6 million. Kerry also raised $1.2 million in Houston in Bush's home state, the campaign said.
Kerry, who mortgaged his Boston home to lend his campaign about $6 million to keep it afloat as the new year began, emerged from the Democratic primaries nearly broke but since has watched his fund raising pick up.
In the first three months of the year, he raised roughly $60 million, including $44 million in March. That was in part because of a flood of donations over the Internet as well as $1,000 and $2,000 checks from Democrats who delayed giving until after the primaries or previously gave to his Democratic rivals.
That quarterly grab topped the $52.9 million raised by Bush during the same three months, and beat the previous presidential quarterly record of $50 million, set by Bush last summer.