WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama raised $29.1 million for his campaign and for the Democratic Party in January, a strong fundraising month that put him ahead of the pace he set in the last quarter of 2011.
In a Twitter message Friday morning, the Obama campaign announced the president raised the money for his re-election effort, for the Democratic National Committee and related committees. The campaign raises money directly from donors and through a Victory Fund that splits proceeds with party efforts devoted to Obama's re-election.
The month's haul raises Obama's total combined fundraising for this election cycle to about $250 million. In the last three months of 2011, he averaged about $23 million a month.
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 did not immediately provide a breakdown of the January fundraising but said 98 percent of the January donations were $250 or less.
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.
Presidential candidates must submit January fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission on Friday. The Obama campaign's full report is expected later in the day.
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."