WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama hauled in more than $68 million for his campaign and the Democratic Party during the final three months of 2011, a show of force that allows him to compete — for now at least — in the new reality of freewheeling outside political groups.
The latest infusion of money, announced Thursday, adds up to more than $220 million in 2011 for the president’s re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee, putting Obama far ahead of other Republican presidential candidates. In most years, it might amount to a substantial fundraising advantage, but a flurry of super PACs and big-dollar independent groups have changed the rules of campaign money.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a video to supporters that they collected more than $42 million for the quarter, with the DNC bringing in more than $24 million, along with $1 million for a joint fund to help state parties in key states. That beat an internal goal of $60 million combined for the quarter.
It came a day after the campaign of Republican front-runner Mitt Romney said it had raised $56 million for the primary through Dec. 31, including $24 million during the final three months of 2011.
Yet, even with the current money advantage over Romney and the rest of the GOP field, Democrats are hoping to remain competitive with Republicans because of the dominance of outside groups.
GOP-supportive super PACs have raised tens of millions of dollars this primary season.