WASHINGTON — Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are neck and neck in filling their presidential campaign coffers after a summer of strong fundraising amid voter anger over jobs and the economy. They're pulling in big bucks — $30 million combined — though not nearly as big as the man they hope to replace in the White House.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney reported roughly $14 million in contributions during the July-September period and had nearly $15 million on hand. Texas Gov. Perry, who briefly surged to the top of the Republican presidential field this summer, has roughly the same in the bank, having raised about $17 million during the first few weeks of his campaign.
Still, the GOP candidates' fundraising efforts lag behind the man whose job they want: President Barack Obama raised more than $70 million for his re-election and the Democratic Party — $42.8 million for his own campaign and $27.3 million for the Democratic National Committee.
Not counting major support from GOP-leaning super PACs, the virtual tie between Romney and Perry for cash on hand means the two have similar amounts to spend on ads and travel just months before heading into key primary states. Obama can save most of his $70 million for next year because he does not face a primary opponent.
Filings released late Friday show a broad base of support for Romney, with major contributions from Oregon to New York. The donations include big checks from GOP stalwarts, such as $5,000 from the New Republican Majority Fund, a political action committee affiliated with former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott.
The candidates' reports, all due Saturday, are offering the first broad look at the financial health of the GOP field. They are the first official tallies of donations and expenses for contenders Perry, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and businessman Herman Cain.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, popular among libertarians but trailing in opinion polls, brought in about $8 million in the summer quarter. Bachmann has given hints that she has raised at least $4 million.
The reports won't capture the tens of millions raised by new, outside groups known as super political action committees, which can collect unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Leading contenders Perry and Romney have at least one super PAC each working to boost their candidacies, and another group is backing Obama's re-election bid.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in an email to supporters that more than 600,000 people donated to the campaign this recent quarter, more than the previous three months. He said nearly 1 million supporters have given money to the campaign and 98 percent of the donors this summer gave $250 or less, with an average donation of $56.
Romney showed similar support from small-dollar donors, drawing 80 percent of contributions from checks less than $250. Romney, a former venture capitalist, had raised $18 million during the April-June period.
Associated Press writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this story.
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