Washington (AP) — The 2012 presidential campaign passed the $2 billion mark in fundraising Thursday, fueled by an outpouring of cash from both ordinary citizens and the wealthiest Americans hoping to influence the selection of the country's next leader.
The figure puts the election on track to be the costliest in modern U.S. history. It comes amid a campaign finance system vastly altered by the proliferation of outside groups and "super" political committees that are bankrolling a barrage of TV ads in battleground states.
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have brought in about $1.7 billion so far this election, according to fundraising reports submitted Thursday night.
Added to that: nearly $300 million in donations involving super PACs since early 2011, as well as tens of millions more in donations to nonprofit groups that run election-related ads but don't have to disclose their donors.
Obama, the Democratic Party and related fundraising committees raised a combined $88.8 million for the first 15 days of October, reports showed, while Romney's fundraising apparatus reaped $111.8 million during the same period.
The largest of those were two pro-Romney groups.
“American Crossroads,” a Republican-leaning super PAC with ties to former President George W. Bush's longtime political counselor Karl Rove, reported raising at least $79.6 million through Oct. 15.
“Restore Our Future,” founded by former Romney aides, reported pulling in $130.6 million so far. And Priorities USA, a pro-Obama group founded by two former aides to the president, reported $62.8 million in contributions.
Added to that: nearly $300 million in donations involving super PACs since early 2011, as well as tens of millions more in donations to nonprofit groups — often affiliated with super PACs — that run election-related ads but don't have to disclose their donors.
Presidential candidates in 2008 raised more than $1.8 billion in inflation-adjusted figures. This time, new factors have contributed to the escalation in the campaign money chase.
This year marked the first time that both major party candidates opted out from the public financing system established to set limits on how much a presidential candidate can raise and spend.
Both Obama and Romney would have been eligible for about $100 million in taxpayer money to support their campaigns through the general election, but both gambled — correctly — that they could raise more and spend far more.
By Beth Fouhy, Associated Press - All copyrights reserved