Time is running out for John McCain to raise money for the presidential election, but he's apparently making the most of it.
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told reporters Friday morning that the GOP candidate raised $27 million in July, leaving him with $21.4 million in the bank by the end of the month. (Reports are due to the Federal Election Commission next week; Barack Obama's campaign hasn't said what it raised.)
That's slightly more than McCain took in in June, and it's the most McCain has ever raised. But it's also barely half of the $52 million Obama raised then; even when McCain has record-setting months, he can't compete with Obama's money machine. By Aug. 31, McCain has to stop raising money and spend whatever's in the bank, under the rules of the $85 million federal grant he'll receive when the Republican convention starts. "We will start the general election fully flush, with all the cash we need to prosecute the election," Davis said. The Republican National Committee has about $75 million in the bank as well, which it can spend on McCain's behalf.
Obama, who opted out of the public money, can raise and spend as much as he wants after the convention.
The FEC, meanwhile, seems likely to let McCain off the hook for campaign finance violations Democrats have accused him of dating back to a loan he took out last fall, when his primary campaign was struggling. FEC lawyers advised the commissioners Thursday that they don't believe McCain was required to stay in the federal matching program for primary candidates, even though he agreed to take the match if necessary to pay off his loan.