WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee raised $3.2 million in February, a strikingly low take for a financial juggernaut led by President Barack Obama and his legions of grass-roots supporters who helped him shatter campaign fundraising records.
Even the committee's Republican counterpart raised more — $5.1 million — last month, and it did so under more difficult circumstances.
The GOP was coming off a disastrous election in which it lost the White House and saw its numbers in Congress shrink further. New GOP chairman Michael Steele also had a rocky start.
Overall, monthly reports being filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission show that the Republican National Committee is in healthier shape than the Democrats as both parties start raising money for special congressional elections and governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey this year, as well as congressional elections in 2010.
The DNC reported $8.6 million on hand and $7 million in debt, while the RNC reported $24 million in the bank and no debt.
Obama, who raised nearly $750 million during his presidential campaign, has not focused on party politics for fundraising since his election, spending his time instead assembling his administration and pushing the economic stimulus bill through Congress.
Democratic fundraising efforts also were slowed by the decision by DNC chairman and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine to forgo most political activity until the Virginia Legislature completed its legislative session in late February.
Democrats are hardly broke. They still have an energized base of donors led by Obama, who ended 2008 with some $18 million in his presidential campaign account. He transferred $2 million to the DNC in February. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also is a fundraising draw.
The president has yet to take part in a major fundraiser; his first event for the DNC is set for Wednesday in Washington. Democrats have been mindful of a potential backlash if he diverts attention from tending to the nation's economic woes for campaign activities.