WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has nearly $60 million more in his political bank account than President Barack Obama has in his coffers, according to financial documents released Monday.
Obama and the Democratic National Committee reported $127 million in the bank on July 31, down from $146 million the month before, according to the campaign's filings with the Federal Election Commission. By contrast, his challenger and the Republican National Committee have been building up campaign cash, from $170 million in June to $185 million at the end of July.
Romney has raised more money than Obama for three months in a row, but those aggregate numbers hide an advantage for the president: Obama has more money in his own campaign account and less in his party's. That gives him more say over the funds because under federal law, a candidate can tell the party how to spend a portion of its money, but the rest must be spent independently of the candidate's control.
"When you just look at the amount of money, Romney has an edge," said Michael Malbin, executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute. "But if you look at the pockets that it's sitting in, it looks as if the president has a kind of tactical advantage."
In addition, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said the campaign is in good shape for the fall because of "the unparalleled ground organization we're building, which can't be replicated in the time remaining."
Both candidates are soliciting donations of up to $70,000 from individuals, but campaign finance law dictates that most of that money goes to their parties. Obama's campaign has also aggressively pursued smaller contributions, those under the $5,000 limit that one person can give to a campaign. That has put more of what he has raised into his campaign account.
Romney has generated less enthusiasm from small donors, although he may see a boost this month after choosing as his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a political star favored by the Republican base.
Another reason for Romney's growing advantage is that Obama's campaign has been spending heavily on TV ads, including $40 million in July.
By comparison, Romney spent $16 million on ads last month. He has been able to spend less because he is getting more help from independent groups that are running ads on his behalf, including super political action committees, which are not bound by contribution limits.