Democrat Barack Obama reported Saturday his most modest fundraising haul of the year following his unprecedented decision to reject public financing for his White House bid.
Obama collected just under 22 million dollars in May, the last month of campaigning in his grueling nominating duel with Senator Hillary Clinton, according to figures released by the Federal Election Commission.
Until last month, Obama had raised one million dollars a day, or no less than 31 million dollars a month between January and April.
For his part, Republican rival John McCain broke his own record in May, but his 21 million dollars still left him behind Obama's fundraising juggernaut.
Obama has raised a record-shattering 287 million dollars since the start of the campaign, fueled by more than 1.5 million small donors who give repeatedly over the Internet. McCain has collected 117.6 million dollars so far.
Obama ended the month of May with 43 million dollars on hand, a little less than the 46 million dollars he had left in April. McCain started June with 31.6 million dollars on hand.
The figures emerged two days after Obama became the first candidate to renounce the public financing system that was instituted in 1976 to control spending by White House hopefuls after the Watergate scandal that felled president Richard Nixon.
His decision to reject the 85 million dollars in public financing and spending limits that come with it allows him to tap into his army of private donors who helped him shatter fundraising records.
Defending his decision, the Democratic senator said the system was "broken" and the stakes were too high to allow unrestrained spending by the Republican Party and right-wing groups on behalf of McCain.
But the move has dented his image as a reformer intent on changing politics as usual. McCain has accepted public financing and its restrictions.
Obama "had an opportunity here to demonstrate that he really is a different kind of politician," The Washington Post said in an editorial. "He made a different choice, and anyone can understand why: he's going to raise a ton of money."
The Obama campaign already reported that tens of thousands people responded to his call for donations between Thursday and Saturday.
"68,022 citizens have declared their independence from a broken system by supporting the first presidential campaign truly funded by the people," the campaign said on its website
The Obama camp had set a goal of getting 50,000 people to donate by the July 4 Independence Day holiday. Its new aim is to raise money among 75,000 people.
Obama, meanwhile, has surged to a 15-point lead over McCain in the latest Newsweek poll released Friday -- by far the biggest margin of any recent survey.
The magazine's poll gave Obama 51 percent to 36 percent for McCain among registered voters nationwide -- three times the margin of four to five points that other polls this week have given the Illinois senator.
Obama is enjoying a post-primary bounce after seeing off Clinton's dogged challenge earlier this month, and supporters of the former first lady are flocking to his side, Newsweek said.
"The latest numbers on voter dissatisfaction suggest that Obama may enjoy more than one bounce. The new poll finds that only 14 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the direction of the country," it reported.
The magazine cautioned that polls this far out from November's election can be unreliable, but noted that Obama was performing much better than either of the Democrats' last two nominees, John Kerry and Al Gore, at this stage.
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