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Bush rakes in almost $50 million for third-quarter fund-raising effort

Campaign reports due Wednesday

From Robert Yoon
CNN Political Unit

President Bush is on his way to raising between $150 million and $170 million for next year's primary.
President Bush is on his way to raising between $150 million and $170 million for next year's primary.

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George Bush
Presidential Election
Fund Raising

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Displaying once again his Midas touch when it comes to fund raising, President Bush raked in $49.5 million over the past three months for his re-election bid -- a total that appears to surpass the collective haul of his nine Democratic rivals, according to campaign officials.

The funds raised in July, August and September brings to $70 million Bush's campaign war chest. The Bush-Cheney campaign has already spent another $14 million. The figures, provided by campaign officials, will be included in a quarterly report be filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The reports, which detail fund raising and spending, were filed with the FEC by midnight Wednesday. Estimates provided by campaign aides for the Democratic candidates suggest that Bush has beaten them all in fund raising for this third quarter.

A tally of estimates provided by the six leading Democrats adds up to roughly $34.5 million for the third quarter with Howard Dean in the lead. His campaign reported about $15 million for the third quarter. Estimates were not available for candidates Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun, but their fund-raising efforts have trailed the other Democrats, a pattern that suggests the Democrats will not come near Bush's third-quarter total.

The $84 million total puts the Bush re-election effort at about halfway to its goal of raising between $150 million and $170 million for next year's primary campaign season. And Bush has no Republican opposition.

To put Bush's prodigious fund raising in context, consider that President Clinton, at this point in his re-election campaign in 1995, had raked in about $19.5 million for the entire year, according to FEC figures. The 1995 figure was not adjusted for inflation.

Despite the Bush administration's oft-stated comment that Bush is not focused on the 2004 campaign, the president has taken an active role in fund raising for his campaign. Roughly 83 percent of the $49.5 million raised from July through September and the $84 million raised overall came from fund-raising events that the president or vice president attended, campaign aides said.

"The president is not focused on politics; he is focused on the nation's business," said Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman. "These numbers reflect a very broad base of support and the hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the country who are making contributions and encouraging their friends to make contributions."

According to Mehlman, approximately 262,000 donors contributed money to the Bush campaign in the third quarter, from 99 percent of all counties in the United States. Approximately 145,000 donations were for less than $200, and about 200,000 were first-time donors to the Bush-Cheney effort.

All donors to the president's re-election bid are listed on campaign's Web site, as well as lists of elite fund raisers known as "Rangers," who collect at least $200,000 in contributions, and "Pioneers," who each raise at least $100,000. The campaign has also created a new fund-raising status called "Mavericks," for donors under age 40 who collect at least $50,000 for the campaign coffers.

One area where Dean is likely to outraise Bush is in contributions made through the Internet. Bush has raised $2.1 million so far this year through online donations. By comparison, Dean raised $3 million on the Internet over a nine-day period in June.

--CNN.com Producer Sean Loughlin contributed to this report.


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