President Obama, Mitt Romney claim big fund-raising totals in August

President Obama’s joint fund-raising committee collected more than $114 million in August, his campaign announced Monday, the biggest haul of the election so far and enough to edge Republican challenger Mitt Romney for the first time since April.

Romney’s joint committee brought in $111.6 million in August, according to his campaign, its third straight month with more than $100 million in receipts.

In a signal that Republicans are beginning to spend more aggressively as Election Day nears, Romney’s joint committee reported $168.5 million on hand at the end of August, $17.4 million less than it had at the end of July.

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Romney’s committee had been stockpiling cash—while Obama’s spent liberally early in the race—and boasted a $62 million cash advantage at the end of the last reporting period. Obama’s committee did not release its August cash total on Monday.

“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are offering bold solutions to our country’s problems,” Romney Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a joint statement. “That is why we are seeing such tremendous support from donors across the country. We will continue the hard work of raising the resources so that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can win in November, put in place their plan for a stronger middle class and finally get the country back on the right track.”

Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina characterized Democrats’ big August as an important step toward neutralizing the cash advantage Romney enjoys in direct fund-raising and also in outside spending by super PACs and other independent groups that can collect unlimited sums from individual donors.

“The key to fighting back against the special interests writing limitless checks to support Mitt Romney is growing our donor base, and we did substantially in the month of August,” Messina said.

Messina called the $114 million total in August “a critical downpayment on the organization we are building across the country—the largest grassroots campaign in history.”

Both campaigns sought to project grassroots support in announcing their totals on Monday. Obama’s team reported that 98 percent of its donations were $250 or less; Romney’s reported 94 percent.