The Obama campaign says it had a record fundraising month in September, but it's being coy about exactly how much it brought in.
The Wall Street Journal reported online Thursday that Obama raised "more than $150 million" in September, citing "people familiar with the totals." Campaign aides said that number was wrong, but wouldn't elaborate.
One aide said the campaign had its best fundraising month "ever," while another said only that it was a record for 2012. The difference could be vast: Obama and the Democratic National Committee together brought in $114 million in August--which was the highest of the year--but collected $193 million in September 2008, setting an all-time benchmark for U.S. politics.
The Romney campaign has not released its fundraising figures yet for September, which are not due to be reported to the Federal Election Commission until the 20th. The leaks from the Obama camp could be aimed at bolstering supporters after the president's widely panned performance at the first presidential debate Wednesday night.
If Obama outraised Romney again in September, it would mark a notable turnaround in his financial status since the summer, when he fell behind his Republican opponent in monthly fundraising from May to July. The Obama team edged out Romney in August, $114 million to $112 million.
The Romney campaign said Thursday that it has had a surge of donations since the candidate's strong debate performance Wednesday night in Denver. Ann Romney also sent a fundraising e-mail to supporters urging them to combat the "billion-dollar Obama machine." Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said that campaign contributions came in at the rate of two donations per second after the debate.
Thomas Jordan, who runs a winery in California and bundles money for Romney, said polls over the recent weeks had had “a negative impact on the donor base” but that “last night changed all that.” He said his own energy level went “way up.” He was on the phone raising money all day, he said, and found a much more receptive group of donors. “It was a sea change,” he said, adding that he had received about $300,000 in commitments, of which he expected to realistically collect more than $200,000 before the election.
He said he had given to most of the Romney supporting super Pacs and now had the feeling they were “in it to win it now, where before maybe it was more contingency planning.”
Obama could be on pace to come close to his overall fundraising in 2008, when he and the party combined raised just under $1 billion. He has raised less money directly for his campaign this time, however, bringing in more funds through the DNC and related committees. But Romney and his allies, including a network of conservative super PACs and nonprofits running ads on his behalf, are also on pace to exceed $1 billion in spending.
Much of Obama's September surge could be due to his strong track record with grassroots donors, including aggressive programs soliciting contributions $3 and up online and through text-messaging services. The campaign said Monday that it had eclipsed 10 million individual donations this year.
Chris Cillizza and Jason Horowitz contributed to this report.