By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama pulled in $29.1 million for his re-election campaign and the Democratic Party in January, raising his total for this election cycle to about $250 million.
The sum, announced Friday, shows he's picked up the pace from his $23 million-a-month average of the final three months of last year
According to financial reports and Obama campaign officials, the Obama Victory Fund, a joint venture of his campaign and the Democratic National Committee, raised $13.4 million. Separately, the Obama campaign raised $9.3 million, the DNC raised $6.1 million and an Obama swing state fund raised $384,000.
That fundraising concluded before the campaign's announcement this month that, in a reversal, Obama would embrace the big big-money fundraising groups he once criticized and let them help in his re-election. Those so-called super PACs, financed with large donations from a small group of individuals, have been prominent in the Republican presidential primary and are also poised to spend millions in the general election contest.
The Obama campaign said 98 percent of January donations were $250 or less. Federal Election Commission filings show Obama's campaign alone pulled in more than $5 million in unitemized contributions, usually less than $200 apiece.
Many of those donors, however, are repeat contributors, meaning that their aggregate donations over the past year would exceed $250. Still, the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute, which analyzes contributions, found that small donors, those whose aggregate contributions amounted to less than $200, accounted for 48 percent of Obama's campaign income in 2011.
That more than doubles the small donor contributions to his campaign in 2007, as he mounted his first campaign for president. What's more, the institute found that small donors accounted for only 9 percent of 2011 fundraising for Republican Mitt Romney, who is battling for front-runner status in the GOP presidential primary and is the top fundraiser in the Republican contest.
Obama also relies on an extended team of more than 440 supporters who help him raise money, including 61 people who each raised at least half a million dollars. Altogether, those top dollar fundraisers collected at least $75 million last year to help Obama win a second term.
Friday's filings also underscored the national infrastructure that Obama's campaign had in place by the end of key primary elections for his GOP opponents last month, having spent cash nationally for office space, staff salaries and political strategists.
Presidential candidates must submit January fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission by Monday.
The January numbers were being reported as Obama concluded a three-day swing of California and Washington that included eight fundraisers, most of them high-dollar events. All told, the president was expected to raise more than $8 million during the trip.
Obama repeatedly tells his audiences of donors that this election will be more difficult and encourages them to rekindle the vigor of his supporters in 2008.
"I have to tell you, it is true I look a little older but in some ways my determination is even greater now than it was in 2008," Obama said at a fundraiser Friday in Medina, Wash., attended by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Obama said the past three years had given him optimism. "We've got really good people and we have to make sure we have a government that is reflective of that core decency. That's what we're fighting for. That's what this is all about."
Associated Press writers Jack Gillum and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.
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