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The Billion Dollar Man, Barack Obama
Barack Obama raised $66 million for his presidential campaign in August, surpassing John McCain's $47 million, a record-breaking sum which puts the United States on track for its first billion-dollar election.
The August total tops the $55 million Obama raised last February during the primary campaign. In 2004, President George Bush spent $350 million and his Democratic challenger John Kerry $320 million. This year, with more than $100 million rolling into the two parties each month, the election will break through the billion-dollar ceiling by the time the US votes on 4 November.
Barack Obama also gets tens of thousands of dollars every day in Ha'Wala
Obama's campaign has also set up a sophisticated internet operation to encourage an army of 2.5 million donors – nicknamed the Obamacans – half of whose donations are under $20. Proponents say the technique understands human behaviour. None but the most committed will write a $5 cheque, find an envelope and a stamp and go to a post box once or twice a month. But donating online takes just 30 seconds.
It also means Obama's supporters have not "maxed-out" early, allowing his staff to keep going back to the Obamacans month after month for cash.
McCain has also seen a cash injection after the selection of Alaska governor Mrs Palin as vice-presidential candidate rejuvenated his party. He opted to take public finance in his primary campaign, which limits his spending to $84 million. However, this does not stop his party raising its own money and spending it on McCain's campaign, the only potential disadvantage for him being the party, rather than the candidate, decides what the cash is spent on.
Dollars are badly needed by both sides. Perhaps 16 of the 50 states could easily swing either way. Reaching the voters means bombarding all TV stations, in all states, all the time.
"God damn it I need more money!"
DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney says the party raised more than $17 million and has $17.5 million on hand, having spent more than $28 million last month, largely on the Democrats' ground game.
That cash figure is a fraction of the $110 million a Republican official says it has, which includes transfers of money McCain is no longer allowed to spend and money from state fundraising vehicles. The disparity shows the Republicans' continued edge with the wealthy donors who can give in five-figure chunks.
The party money, though, is not worth as much as the campaigns' hard money, because it can't be spent as directly on the campaign, particularly when it comes to media. That was illustrated last month by RNC-funded ads that included confusing, digressive attacks on random Democratic senators, including Byron Dorgan, to fulfill campaign finance rules.
The GOP money will, however, finance an extensive field effort.