NEW YORK - Mitt Romney’s campaign said Monday that it had raised $170.4 million in the month of September, coming close to the $181 million monthly total reported by President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.
Spencer Zwick, Romney’s national finance chairman, said in an e-mail to top donors that the month marked by far the biggest haul of the campaign cycle for Republicans. The campaign, Republican National Committee and state party participants had about $191 million cash on hand at the end of September, aides said.
The strong fundraising came during Romney’s most difficult month as a candidate, when he lost significant ground in the polls and when a video surfaced of him disparaging the "47 percent" who do not pay federal income tax as "victims." The total also does not reflect a reported surge in donations after Romney’s widely heralded performance in an Oct. 3 debate with Obama.
About a quarter of the September total - $43 million - came from donors giving $250 or less, underscoring Romney’s continued reliance on wealthier donors for the bulk of his donations. Obama, by contrast, has collected more than half of his money from those giving $200 or less.
The campaign also has raised more than $27 million in online donations during the first two weeks of October, which is higher than the online total for any previous month, spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
The fundraising announcement came as Romney’s top donors gathered in New York on Monday for a three-day retreat at the Waldorf-Astoria luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan. The donors are mingling with Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis., eating lunch with Ann Romney and dining with surrogates, including real-estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump.
The soiree is the latest reward from Romney to his most prolific fundraisers, many of whom long ago contributed the $50,000 required to gain entrance to the event and have raised tens of thousands of dollars more from their friends.
In a letter to invited donors obtained by The Washington Post, the campaign wrote that the retreat "promises to be a wonderful and informational experience for attendees. You will have an opportunity to learn detailed information about Governor Romney’s path to victory in November and have an opportunity to network with fellow supporters."
Perhaps mindful of the "47 percent" incident - which came from a secret recording of a private fundraiser - the letter also warned that "all events are closed to the public" and that all statements are "off the record."
"The debate performance was great and having much better poll numbers helps," said Ray Washburne, a Dallas investor attending the event. "People want to get involved in something that’s got momentum and enthusiasm, and we’ve got both now."
Also on Monday, Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senate candidate in Massachusetts, announced that she had pulled in $12.1 million in the third quarter, outraising Sen. Scott Brown, R, by more than $4 million.
The number brings Warren’s total haul this election cycle to more than $40 million in about 13 months as a candidate. Brown’s campaign announced that it raised nearly $7.5 million for the quarter and had $10.2 million cash on hand. Warren’s campaign did not provide a cash-on-hand number.
Aaron Blake and Dan Eggen in Washington contributed to this report.