WASHINGTON, D.C. (USA Today) - Republican Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee raised more than $170 million in September, the biggest monthly haul of the campaign, but trailing slightly behind the $181 million collected by President Obama and affiliated Democratic committees last month.
The fundraising left Romney and allied Republican committees with $191 million in available cash to spend in the final full month of the presidential contest, and his campaign pushed to raise more.
"With less than a month left, we will continue the hard work of raising the resources to ensure Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can win in November," Spencer Zwick, Romney's top fundraiser said in a statement, as the campaign's top donors and fundraisers gathered Monday for the start of a three-day retreat at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City.
The events include a private party at a midtown Manhattan ballroom where donors can watch televised coverage of Tuesday's town hall presidential debate at Hofstra University in nearby Long Island.
Romney's campaign has relied heavily on larger donors, who can write big checks to the Republican National Committee. But the RNC faces limits on how much of its advertising it can coordinate with Romney. On Monday, Romney's aides said his campaign had drawn more than 1 million donations smaller than $250 last month. Those donations totaled $43 million or roughly one-quarter of the September total, the campaign said.
After marshaling his resources over the summer, Romney has begun an advertising barrage, spending nearly $19 million last week alone in nine key battleground states, according to data collected by the National Journal. That tops the $18.1 million Obama spent during the same period in those states.
In North Carolina, a state Obama won slightly by more than 14,000 votes four years ago, Romney pumped $1.4 million into television commercial last week while Obama spent nearly $830,000. He also outspent the president on the air in Iowa, Nevada Virginia and Wisconsin.
Romney's campaign did not say whether the candidate has tapped his fortune. In August, Romney borrowed $20 million to remain competitive with Obama, and aides say he did not seek another loan in September.
Obama has not disclosed how much cash he had on the bank at the end of September. Those numbers and other details of both campaigns' fundraising and spending won't come until Saturday when they make disclosures to the Federal Election Commission.
Monday was the deadline for congressional candidates to detail their fundraising to federal regulators.
In one of the nation's most expensive and hotly contested Senate races, Democrat Elizabeth Warren raised $12.1 million in the July-to-September fundraising quarter, surging past the nearly $7.5 million collected by Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, the Republican she wants to unseat.
Warren raised more than $7 million in September alone, the month she delivered a primetime address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
The Massachusetts battle is one of several that could determine control of the Senate, where Democrats now hold a 53-47 majority.
The race for political clash was closer in several other states. In Montana, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester raised $2.3 million in the July-to-September period; his challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., collected $2.4 million.
By Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY