Dec. 5, 2008— -- He was not quite the first $1 billion president -- but he was three quarters of the way there.
In 21-plus months, Barack Obama raised roughly $750 million from donors, surpassing all of his White House opponents this year and also eclipsing the total amount of money raised by all of the presidential candidates combined in 2004.
Post-election campaign finance reports, filed by the candidates with the Federal Election Commission Thursday, reinforced the striking contrast between the amount of money Obama had at his disposal versus Republican rival John McCain.
From Oct. 16 through Nov. 24, 20 days after he was elected president, the Obama campaign reported bringing in $110.7 million from more than a million contributors. In that time period, Obama raised more money than the McCain campaign had available to spend during the general election, which officially began after the parties held their late summer conventions.
The Obama campaign finished the reporting period sitting on $30 million. It's not clear how that money will be used. Plus, the Obama campaign advises it expects its total amount of money to increase when cash from the Obama Victory Fund comes in. The campaign reports more than $770 million in total receipts.
More people gave to the Obama campaign than any campaign in history. Obama's best fundraising month came in September, when he obliterated all records by raking in $153.1 million. Team Obama estimated its total number of donors to be just shy of 4 million.
McCain's fundraising for the 2008 cycle was not terrible. The Arizona senator raised a respectable $238 million from donors, in addition to the $84 million federal grant he received for participating in the public financing system.
In all, McCain had almost $50 million more to spend than George W. Bush did in 2004. Those were good overall numbers, but obviously not enough to compete with Obama's enormous fundraising prowess.
Obama's reversal on a pledge to use public financing for the general election enabled the then-senator to collect as much money as possible for his campaign. Candidates who opt into the public financing system are limited to spending only the federal grant.
Obama became the first candidate to forgo the public financing system, a system first put in place after Watergate. During the final leg of the campaign, the roughly two months following the conventions, the Obama campaign amassed about $200 million more than McCain, who, it should be noted, also got a big funding boost from the Republican National Committee.