WASHINGTON – President Bush's (search) campaign set fund-raising and spending records last month, breaking the $201 million mark in money raised and reaching $126 million in cash spent for his re-election effort.
The Republican started May with nearly $72 million left in the bank after using up nearly $31 million in April, a campaign finance report filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission (search) showed. Bush's spending declined after March, when he spent roughly $50 million on his first wave of campaign ads.
Bush spent roughly $21 million on ads in April, his biggest expense last month. Among other major campaign costs, the campaign devoted more than $4 million to mailings, about $1.6 million to staff salaries, consultants and related costs, and $555,000 to phone banks.
Bush has raised at least $3 million this month, bringing him to $204 million or more. In all, the re-election effort has received money from at least 1 million donors since Bush began fund raising last May.
Bush must make his campaign fortune last until early September, when he is officially nominated at the Republican National Convention (search) in New York and receives about $75 million in full government financing for the general-election phase of his campaign.
To sustain his spending at last month's rate through the summer, Bush would need to raise at least $50 million more. That would be possible at his current fund-raising rate: He took in about $15 million last month, with roughly two-thirds of that in donations of under $1,000 coming in through the mail or over the Internet.
Bush has stopped holding fund-raisers for himself and is focusing on raising money for the party and other GOP candidates.
Bush's primary-season money must stretch about a month longer than that of his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search). Kerry will receive his general-election financing at the Democratic National Convention (search) in Boston in late July.
But Kerry has to make his $75 million government check last a month longer than Bush. And because the Republican convention is timed later than the Democratic gathering, Bush will have about a month more to raise money from private contributors than Kerry.
Kerry planned to file his monthly campaign finance report Thursday. The presidential reports were due at the FEC at midnight.
Kerry's campaign said earlier that he raised at least $110 million through April, including a loan of roughly $6 million.
His campaign has raised roughly $7 million as part of a $10 million online fund-raising drive this month, pushing his total to a Democratic record of at least $117 million.
Both Bush and Kerry opted out of public financing (search) for the primary phase of the campaign, allowing them to spend unlimited amounts through the spring and summer until their party nominating conventions.