By JIM KUHNHENN
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama pulled in $29.1 million for his re-election campaign and the Democratic Party in January, raising his total for this election cycle to about $250 million.
The sum, announced Friday, shows he's picked up the pace from his $23 million-a-month average of the final three months of last year
Financial reports released Friday show roughly $11.8 million in contributions to Obama's campaign, as well as an additional $13.4 million to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint venture of his campaign and the DNC. The remaining sum of contributions would come from contributions to the DNC and the campaign's Swing State Victory Fund.
That fundraising concluded before the campaign's announcement this month that, in a reversal, Obama would embrace the big big-money fundraising groups he once criticized and let them help in his re-election. Those so-called super PACs, financed with large donations from a small group of individuals, have been prominent in the Republican presidential primary and are also poised to spend millions in the general election contest.
The Obama campaign said 98 percent of January donations were $250 or less. Federal Election Commission filings show Obama's campaign alone pulled in more than $5 million in unitemized contributions, usually less than $200 apiece.
Many of those donors, however, are repeat contributors, meaning that their aggregate donations over the past year would exceed $250. Still, the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute, which analyzes contributions, found that small donors, those whose aggregate contributions amounted to less than $200, accounted for 48 percent of Obama's campaign income in 2011.
That more than doubles the small donor contributions to his campaign in 2007, as he mounted his first campaign for president. What's more, the institute found that small donors accounted for only 9 percent of 2011 fundraising for Republican Mitt Romney, who is battling for front-runner status in the GOP presidential primary and is the top fundraiser in the Republican contest.
Obama also relies on an extended team of more than 440 supporters who help him raise money, including 61 people who each raised at least half a million dollars. Altogether, those top dollar fundraisers collected at least $75 million last year to help Obama win a second term.
Friday's filings also underscored the national infrastructure that Obama's campaign had in place by the end of key primary elections for his GOP opponents last month, having spent cash nationally for office space, staff salaries and political strategists.
Presidential candidates must submit January fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission by Monday.
The January numbers were being reported as Obama concluded a three-day swing of California and Washington that included eight fundraisers, most of them high-dollar events. All told, the president was expected to raise more than $8 million during the trip.
Obama repeatedly tells his audiences of donors that this election will be more difficult and encourages them to rekindle the vigor of his supporters in 2008.
"And that's not going to be easy because, first of all, I'm older and I'm grayer," he told about 70 high-dollar contributors in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood Thursday night. "So it's not as new, it's not as trendy to be part of the Obama campaign -- although some of you still have your posters, I'm sure.
"And part of it is we've gone through three tough years and so people want to hope, but they've been worn down by a lot of hardship."
Associated Press writer Jack Gillum in Edinburgh, Scotland, contributed to this report.
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