Obama leads Romney with cash on hand, but GOP leads in overall fundraising

The presidential candidates have blown through hundreds of millions of dollars on their campaigns but with only three weeks until the election Democratic incumbent Barack Obama has $88 million left in his bank while Republican challenger Mitt Romney has $50 million cash on hand.

Obama has outraised Romney overall with $432 million in contributions compared with $274 million raised by the Republican, according to the Federal Election Commission’s latest figures from the Aug. 31 filing.

Romney is running up a larger debt with a reported $15 million loan, while Obama has a $2.9 million liability, the reports said.

The candidates have a lot of outside help: The Republican National Committee (RNC) has led fundraising efforts with $275 million raised compared to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which has raised $215 million.

However, the Washington Post reported last week that the RNC now has 10 times more cash than its Democratic rival and that the DNC took out $8 million in loans in September — which means it had more debt ($11.8 million) than cash on hand ($7.1 million).

Outside spending by super PACs has played a major role in campaign advertising, especially in the grueling, drawn out Republican primary that at one time pitted nine candidates against one another for the party’s nomination.

Super PACs identifying themselves as conservative leaning have spent more than $408 million, while those identifying themselves as liberal have spent more than $164 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The top spenders on the Republican side include the No. 1 spender overall: Restore our Future with $95 million. Former Romney staffers founded the PAC, and at least $40 million of that was spent in the primary process.

The second highest spending came from Karl Rove’s PAC, American Crossroads, which has spent $84 million. Other notable groups spending on behalf of Republicans include more than $8 million from the National Rifle Association, nearly $4 million from Americans for Tax Reform, and more than $2 million from Right to Life.

Major players on the Democratic side include Priorities USA Action, a group founded by former Obama aides that have spent more than $44 million, and the Service Employees International Union, which has spent $20 million.

Other major spenders for Democrats include Planned Parenthood and the League of Conservation Voters spending more than $7 million each, the AFL-CIO chipping in with $3 million and another million dollars from the Sierra Club.

A significant amount of money raised is being spent on television advertising, with new ads in recent weeks coming directly from the debates including Obama’s ad vowing to protect Big Bird, to the Romney camp’s recap of smiling Joe Biden at the vice presidential debate.