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US presidential candidates near US$1 bil. mark in fundraising

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney and his Republican allies raised more than President Barack Obama and the Democrats in the first 17 days of October as both presidential campaign efforts approached the US$1 billion mark, with Obama in the lead, disclosures showed on Thursday.

The tight 2012 presidential race has become the costliest in U.S. history thanks to massive spending on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts by the campaigns and by outside groups that have no fundraising limits.

After several months of lagging Obama in fundraising, Romney, the Republican National Committee and allied state parties overtook their Democratic rivals in October with US$111.8 million raised from Oct. 1 to 17, his campaign said, a period that included two of the three televised presidential debates.

Obama's campaign raised US$90.5 million for itself and Democratic Party allies during that period, becoming the first in history to raise a total of more than US$1 billion for an election effort together with his party.

Romney and the RNC were close behind, taking in a total of US$919.4 million throughout the 2012 campaign so far.

Obama's campaign hedged on the US$1 billion figure, saying the total was still short of that mark — at about US$988 million — based on a tally of the cash raised since April 4, 2011, when Obama's team and the party officially became one campaign.

Reuters totals are based on a more commonly used calculation method that includes campaign funds starting on April 1, 2011, and party efforts dating back to Jan. 1, 2011.

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