WASHINGTON – Things you can do with $200 million: cover the New York Yankees' payroll for a year, go to Disney World more than 3 million times, buy a Picasso and a Van Gogh ... and run President Bush's re-election campaign.
Bush's campaign has hit the $200 million mark, doubling his 2000 record in less than a year of fund raising, donations through April posted on the campaign's Web site and tallied by The Associated Press show. The Republican incumbent has raised almost twice as much as Democratic rival John Kerry (search).
The figure would have been virtually unthinkable as recently as four years ago, when Bush stunned political observers by taking in just over $100 million. Then, Bush did so with the help of a national network of more than 200 volunteer campaign fund-raisers nicknamed "Pioneers," who each collected at least $100,000 for him.
Since then, Bush's fund-raising team has more than doubled, and many of his supporters already have raised more than $200,000 apiece. They have done so with help from the nation's campaign finance law, which doubled to $2,000 the maximum a person could donate to a political campaign.
Bush spokesman Terry Holt said the campaign also has received hundreds of thousands of smaller contributions.
"We've raised money in every county in the United States of America and we feel we have the kind of broad grass-roots base to be competitive," Holt said Thursday.
The total surpasses the Bush campaign's stated goals. Though many Bush supporters were confident of reaching or exceeding the $200 million mark, the campaign had set a goal of $150 million to $170 million when the president began raising money for his re-election effort last May.
Kerry is setting his own records. The Massachusetts senator raised at least $25 million in April, pushing his total since January 2003 to a party record $110 million. His campaign shrugged off Bush's record.
"So he's raised $200 million, and all he's got himself is in a dead heat," Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said.
Bush and Kerry can raise so much in part because both skipped public financing and the accompanying $45 million spending limit until their party nominating conventions in the summer.
Bush's $200 million is as much as Academy Award-winning director James Cameron (search) spent making the 1997 blockbuster movie "Titanic," ranked by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive film ever made.
It would send more than 5,000 students to Harvard for a year, buy more than 3.5 million tickets to Disney World, more than cover Yankee salaries, and pay for two of the costliest paintings ever auctioned, a Picasso and a Van Gogh.
Though it is a lot of money, both campaigns already have spent tens of millions. In March alone, the last spending figures available, Bush burned up a presidential record $50 million as he launched a first wave of television ads.
The Bush campaign held its last scheduled fund-raisers last month, with Bush turning his attention to raising money for the Republican Party and other candidates. The campaign has continued taking in donations through the mail and over the Internet, and in April raised roughly $15 million in all.
Kerry has been traveling the country raising money to rebuild his finances.
This week, his campaign launched an effort to raise at least $10 million over the Internet this month, with supporters, including former President Clinton, sending fund-raising e-mails for him.
"'Good for you. Now get back to work,'" Clinton wrote. "When you, I and other John Kerry supporters look in the mirror, that's what we should tell ourselves. ... if we're serious about winning, we've got to realize that the true test of our commitment is ahead of us, not behind us."
Kerry's latest Internet push had yielded more than $2.5 million by Thursday.