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Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has pulled ahead of rival Barack Obama at the bank as well as in the polls and both continue to crush Republicans in the money race.
Clinton holds nearly $35 million three months before the voting starts, to Obama’s $32 million.
The Republican money leader, Rudy Giuliani, reported $11.6 million in the bank for the primaries.
Clinton, who had trailed Obama in fundraising and in money in the bank at the end of June, edged past him with an aggressive third quarter of fundraising.
The New York senator, who also has been raising money for the general election, had a total of $50.5 million in the bank, her campaign reported. But nearly $16 million of that cannot be used for the primaries.
She reported raising $23.7 million for the primary and had operating expenses of $21.3 million. Obama spent a nearly identical amount, but he raised $19.3 million in the quarter. They each reported debts — Clinton owed $2.3 million and Obama owed $1.4 million.
Democrat John Edwards reported $12.4 million in the bank after raising nearly $7.2 million and spending almost $8.3 million during the quarter. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, trying to establish himself among the Democratic leaders, reported $5.8 million in the bank. He raised $5.3 million in the quarter and spent $6.6 million.
Among Republicans, Mitt Romney spent $21 million during the third quarter, more than twice what he raised during the period and more than what he spent in previous quarters, according to his FEC report.
John McCain, enjoying something of a resurgence in the polls after a dismal second quarter, reported more than $1.6 million cash on hand for the primaries and more than $1.7 million in debts, putting his campaign in the red. McCain has an extra $1.8 million in the bank that can only be used if he wins the Republican nomination.
McCain’s financial condition may force him to accept public financing for his campaign, providing an infusion of cash but limiting how much he can spend. McCain’s report detailed how his primary spending has been allocated by state, an indication that he is prepared to accept matching federal money.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and venture capitalist, has been tapping his personal wealth to supplement money from contributors. He raised $9.8 million and lent his campaign $8.5 million over the summer.
Giuliani reported spending $13 million during the same period, compared to the $10.2 million he raised for the primary campaign. Giuliani also raised about $1.3 million to spend on the general election if he wins the nomination.
Fred Thompson, who didn’t officially enter the race until early September, reported spending $5.4 million during the quarter, more than half of it last month.
Thompson, whose report covers fundraising and spending since June, when he began exploring a presidential bid, raised $12.8 million during that four month-period. He reported $7.1 million in the bank at the end of September, as well as $678,000 in debts.
Romney reported $9.2 million cash in hand, thanks in large part to the $17.5 million he has funneled into his campaign since the beginning of the year. He has raised $45 million since January, but leads all Republican candidates with $52.8 million in spending for the year.
In the Republican surprise of the quarter, long-shot candidate Ron Paul capitalized on his anti-war stance and Internet following to amass $5.2 million in contributions. He reported $5.4 million cash on hand at the end of September.
As a group Romney, Giuliani and Thompson enter the final stretch before the first nominating contests with money to spend on get-out-the-vote and advertising campaigns.
Giuliani led the Republican field in fundraising this summer, according to early estimates provided by the campaigns, though his July-September total fell from his high during April-June. It was the first time Giuliani’s campaign spent more than it raised during a quarter.
Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and actor on NBC’s “Law & Order,” raised $9.3 million of his $12.8 million total during July-September.
Among Democrats, Clinton used the third quarter to secure her place as a national front-runner. She has recently hit 50-percent support among Democrats in national polls, though the race is closer in Iowa, where she holds a small lead in a cluster with Obama and Edwards.
Her biggest expenditure for the quarter was $4 million for salaries followed by $2.2 million for travel. Her advertising expenses, which are beginning to increase, were $1.7 million.
Clinton also refunded $1.2 million to donors, including more than $800,000 to donors linked to disgraced Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu.
Obama had a $3.8 million payroll for the quarter and spent $2.3 million on travel.
Giuliani is the Republican front-runner nationally, but he lags behind Romney in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa. In New Hampshire, another important early voting state, polls show the race a virtual toss-up among Giuliani, Romney and John McCain. Thompson also is competitive with the top tier in state and national polls.
According to Giuliani’s report, the campaign spent more than $2 million on payroll and $1.3 million on travel from July-September, about as much as it had during the first six months of the year.
His campaign increased advertising this quarter, spending nearly $470,000 on radio and newspapers, including a full-page ad in The New York Times last month that criticized Clinton, the Democratic front-runner. Giuliani leads all candidates in radio advertising with more than 640 spots in several states, according to the Nielsen television ratings company.
Romney has spent much more on television, but radio is cheaper and can be targeted to specific audiences.
Romney spent nearly $6 million on television and radio commercials, bringing his total ad spending for the year to a whopping $12.7 million. So far, Romney has placed the most political ads on the air than any candidate, Democrat or Republican. The Nielsen Co., which also monitors advertising, reported Monday that Romney had placed 10,600 television ads from Jan. 1 to Oct. 10. Richardson, the Democrat, was second with 5,800 television spots.
Both candidates, little known outside their states or national political circles, have used their ads to increase their name recognition, particularly in Iowa, the state scheduled to hold the first-in-the-nation caucuses in early January.
Obama ramped up his advertising toward the end of third quarter, spending nearly $3.3 million on media. He has placed more than 4,200 spots on television, practically all of them in Iowa, according to Nielsen. Clinton has placed nearly 2,200 spots, with more than 1,600 airing in Iowa. According to Nielsen, Clinton also has placed a small number of ads in other states, including New York, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arizona.
Associated Press writers John Dunbar and Sharon Theimer contributed to this report.