WASHINGTON – President Bush has stopped holding fund-raisers for himself but his campaign fortune continues to grow, hitting at least $218 million with more than two months of donations still to come.
The Republican started June with about $63 million in the bank.
Bush raised roughly $13 million in May, a monthly campaign finance report he filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission (search) shows. Bush has been relying on mailed and online donations to raise money for his campaign since April, when he turned his attention to holding fund raisers for other Republicans. His average donation last month was $60, the campaign said.
Bush raised about $4 million more in the first week of June, bringing him to about $218 million total since he started raising re-election money in May 2003, donor information posted on his Web site shows.
Bush long ago surpassed the presidential record of $105 million he set in 2000, in part thanks to a doubling of the individual contribution limit to $2,000 under a new campaign finance law. Every dollar he raises now sets a record.
If contributions continue at their current pace through August, Bush is on track to reach $250 million by the time his party officially nominates him in early September. At that point, Bush will accept full government financing for his general-election campaign. He can use private contributions only for a legal compliance fund that covers attorney and accounting costs.
Bush spent about $152 million through May, more than half of it on television ads.
By the end of this month, he and Democratic rival John Kerry (search) together will have spent more than $140 million since March on TV ads. Bush will have spent more than $80 million and Kerry more than $60 million.
Bush used up about $22 million in May, his most frugal month since February, when he spent $8 million while waiting for a Democrat to emerge from the primaries. That was before he unleashed $50 million in March during his first wave of ads, followed by $31 million in April spending.
Ads were again Bush's biggest expense last month, accounting for at least $14 million. Other big costs included campaign mailings, at least $1.9 million; staff and consultant pay and related costs, about $1.4 million; phone calls to prospective supporters, at least $540,000; and surveys, at least $117,000.
The Bush campaign plans to leave the airwaves for several days beginning late next week, when an ad on economic gains stops airing. The campaign is targeting its ads toward times it feels the public is tuning in.
Ads in the 19 local media markets where Bush is on the air will stop running this weekend. His commercials on national cable networks end Thursday, and the campaign will stop entirely for a few days. Kerry will remain on the air.
Kerry too is shattering fund-raising records. By skipping public financing during the primary season, he and Bush are free to spend as much as they can raise until their party nominating conventions.
Kerry raised roughly $25 million in May, raising his campaign total to more than $140 million through the month, the campaign said earlier this week. He will detail his latest month of fund raising in a report to the FEC due at midnight Sunday.