WASHINGTON – Ad spending consumed nearly $14 million of President Bush's general election budget in the first half of this month, leaving him with $22 million for the final three weeks of his re-election campaign.
In all, Bush spent $14.5 million from Oct. 1-13, with nearly all going to an advertising firm, Maverick Media, according to a pre-election campaign finance report he filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission (search).
Democratic Sen. John Kerry's (search) report covering the first two weeks of October was due at midnight.
Bush and Kerry each finished last month with about $37 million left to spend on their general election campaigns, according to September finance reports they filed Wednesday.
Each received $75 million in full government financing to cover campaign costs after being nominated at the conventions. The Democratic gathering was held a month earlier than the GOP convention, forcing Kerry to make his public funding last three months to Bush's two.
The candidates also can get help from their parties, which can each spend roughly $16 million in coordination with their nominee and unlimited amounts independent of his campaign. As October began, the Democratic National Committee had used at least $7 million of that total, while the RNC had slightly more than $15 million left.
Both parties spent millions on independent expenditures in the presidential race over the past week. The DNC spent at least $22 million, mostly on ads supporting Kerry or opposing Bush. The Republican committee spent more than $5 million.
In all, the RNC had $71 million on hand and the Democratic committee had about $42 million as of Oct. 1.
While Bush and Kerry can no longer raise private money for campaign costs, both can accept it for funds that cover their legal and accounting costs, including any recount expenses. Bush's legal fund had $10 million on hand as of mid-month. As of Oct. 1, Kerry's most recent report, his legal fund had $5.2 million.
Congressional party committees were also filing campaign finance reports this week. Among them, the National Republican Congressional Committee reported nearly $26 million in the bank as of Oct. 1, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had $24 million on hand.