WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama raised a combined $53 million for his campaign, the Democratic Party and other campaign funds in March, his campaign said Monday as it prepared to face Mitt Romney and a rejuvenated GOP in the general election.
Obama has collected nearly $350 million since the start of the campaign last year, representing a boost in campaign cash compared with recent months. He has raised about $127 million for his campaign, the Democratic National Committee and other campaign funds since the beginning of 2012.
Obama has entered a new phase in which he faces a direct challenge from Romney, who has begun raising money jointly with the Republican National Committee to overcome the president's fundraising edge. The RNC raised $13.7 million in March, its best month of the election cycle and has $32.7 million in cash.
Romney had raised about $75 million through the end of February and ended the month with about $7.2 million in the bank. His campaign was expected to announce fundraising totals for March this week.
Obama's campaign had $84.7 million in cash-on-hand through the end of February and was expected to detail its cash position in an upcoming report with the Federal Election Commission.
Obama's campaign team has tried to generate a sense of urgency, telling donors they need to get involved because of Republican-leaning super PACs aiming to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat the president.
"We're all going to have to dig even deeper, work even harder, move even faster," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a video released Monday outlining the fundraising totals. "It's going to take all of us working together."
The president has ramped up his fundraising pace in 2012, collecting about $29 million in January and $45 million in February. But Republicans note that Obama's fundraising efforts this year are slightly behind the $136 million his campaign raised during the first three months of 2008 when he didn't have the party's fundraising apparatus at his disposal.
Obama's campaign said earlier this year that it would bless big-money super PACs supporting Democrats as a way of countering the Republican effort. The Democratic outside groups have struggled to raise money compared to their GOP-leaning counterparts, raising concerns among party activists.