The amounts are eye-popping -- and it is only June. President Bush has raised at least $218 million for his reelection campaign and has spent $152 million, more than half of it on television ads. If contributions keep coming in at the current pace, Bush's total could reach $250 million by the time of the GOP convention at the end of August.
According to reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission, Bush raised about $13 million in May. The campaign has been relying on mailed and online donations to raise money since April, when Bush switched to raising funds for his party rather than his campaign.
Bush received donations in May from 224,380 people, who gave an average of $60, the campaign said. The campaign has $63 million in the bank.
Bush long ago passed the $105 million fundraising record he set in 2000, in part thanks to a doubling of the individual contribution limit to $2,000 under a new campaign finance law.
By the end of this month, he and Democratic rival John F. Kerry together will have spent more than $140 million since March on television ads, according to the Associated Press. Bush will have spent more than $80 million, and Kerry, more than $60 million.
By skipping public financing during the primaries, the Massachusetts senator and the president are allowed to spend as much as they can raise until their party nominating conventions.
Kerry, too, is setting fundraising records. He raised about $25 million in May, bringing his campaign total to more than $140 million, the campaign said this week.
Ethics Retaliation? Republicans Delay
Within hours of learning that a Democratic lawmaker planned an ethics complaint against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) this week, Republicans seemed ready to retaliate by filing charges against Democrats. "You kill my dog, I'll kill your cat," said Rep. John T. Doolittle (Calif.), a prominent DeLay ally.
Democrats braced for the onslaught, and then . . . nothing happened. GOP lawmakers denounced the complaint all week, but they made no further hints about responding in kind.
It was no accident. On Monday night, DeLay huddled with a half-dozen colleagues to discuss their two main options: Start filing ethics charges against Democrats in a tit-for-tat strategy reminiscent of the 1980s ethics wars, or lay low and hope the storm passes with minimal damage to DeLay.
They chose option two, according to staffers who later spoke with participants. "They want to cool their jets and let this play out."
But at least one GOP lawmaker -- Rep. Ray H. LaHood (Ill.) -- wasn't content. In a Wednesday appropriations subcommittee vote on legislative branch spending, he offered an amendment to bar lame-duck legislators from filing ethics complaints. The retroactive plan would have forced Rep. Chris Bell (D-Tex.) -- who lost a March primary -- to withdraw his complaint against DeLay.
LaHood's proposal failed, 5 to 5, when Rep. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) and four Democrats voted against it. LaHood says he might try again in the full Appropriations Committee, but he seems to be getting no encouragement from DeLay or Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).
Hastert spokesman John Feehery said yesterday that when LaHood pitched his idea at a Wednesday GOP caucus meeting, the speaker told his colleagues that "he didn't know how you could do that" under House rules. DeLay also spoke against the idea, an aide said.