WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama raised $66 million in August, a record for a presidential candidate. The campaign included first-time donations from a half-million people.
Republican nominee John McCain raised $47 million in August, a personal best for his campaign.
The monthly figures for both candidates were noteworthy because August is usually a slow month for fundraising.
McCain has a significant advantage because he has accepted $84 million in taxpayer funds under a public financing system Obama chose to bypass.
The efforts of the two campaigns and the two national parties left both candidates on nearly equal financial footing with about $94 million at the end of August.
McCain has a head start over Obama with the federal funds. By accepting that money, however, he is limited to spending only that amount. Additional fundraising can be done only for the GOP.
McCain and the GOP have been able to stay essentially even with Obama and the Democrats through August because the Republican National Committee has had strong fundraising and low spending. The Democratic National Committee has had lower fundraising and higher spending.
In August, the Republican National Committee raised about $22 million, shy of its $26 million sum in July.
The Democratic National Committee reported raising $17.3 million in August, short of the $20 million raised in July.
McCain has placed running mate Sarah Palin on an aggressive fundraising schedule for the Republican Party. The Alaska governor is to have about one fundraiser every two days for the remainder of the campaign.
McCain's campaign reported raising $10 million in the final days of August, a surge it attributes to Palin's selection.
The Obama campaign reported that it raised $10 million in less than 24 hours after Palin's address to the Republican National Convention this month. Obama has scheduled a series of fundraisers and has continued to make Internet and e-mail appeals to his donors and supporters.
"The 500,000 new donors to the Obama campaign demonstrate just how strongly the American people are looking to kick the special interests out and change Washington," campaign manager David Plouffe said in a statement.
McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said the announcement provides "66 million reminders that Barack Obama is willing to stray from reform, break his word to the American people and forgo public financing in favor of his own ambitions. Americans need change, not self-promotion."
Overall, Obama has raised an unprecedented $440 million for his campaign. McCain has raised $194 million.
On Sunday, McCain attended a NASCAR race in Loudon, N.H., accompanied by racing legend Richard Petty and Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
This week, Obama has rallies set for today and Tuesday in Colorado and on Wednesday in Nevada. McCain is scheduled to stump in Florida today and Tuesday, then join Palin at a rally Tuesday afternoon in Vienna, Ohio.