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Paris Hilton Ad Helped Internet Fundraising, McCain Campaign Manager Says

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On a Friday morning conference call with reporters, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis revealed that the Republican nominee pulled in approximately $27 million in July.

But Davis also gave a hint that the August numbers -- which will be released next month -- should shape up well, too, in part because of the infamous Paris Hilton/Britney Spears "Celeb" ad that drew so much media attention last month after Barack Obama's world trip.

"It wasn't so much the trip itself [that drove fundraising], but the way we managed the trip in terms of our advertising campaign," Davis said. "Many of you all know the [Hilton] advertisement got more hits on YouTube than any other YouTube video," he adding, noting that that was a "first" for the McCain campaign. "We definitely saw an uptick in internet receipts" as the "Celeb" ad reached one million hits, Davis revealed.

The campaign manager noted that McCain has drawn 600,000 individual donors thus far in the campaign. Added to those who have donated to the RNC and other joint committees, Davis put the number at 1.5 million, a number still short of the over 2 million who have contributed to Barack Obama's fundraising totals.

Barack Obama's campaign has yet to announce its own July figures.

Davis was consistently upbeat about his campaign's financial situation, noting that "when we have this call next month, we'll be reporting no cash on hand left in our primary account." Since McCain will be taking $84 million in government money after the convention, he'll also have to spend all the money in his primary account by the end of August.

At the end of July, Davis reported that the campaign held $21.4 million in cash on hand. Combining that money with a predicted August take of over $20 million, which also must be spent before the convention, Davis hinted at a pretty healthy ad blitz through the rest of the month. He even bragged that they are outpacing Obama in key battleground states (despite the fact that Obama is up all over the country, and in many areas where McCain is dark) with a total expenditure of $60 million on ads since May.

Combined with RNC efforts, McCain expects to have over $100 million cash on hand in the first week of September, according to Davis. "We'll be fully flush to prosecute our campaign" through to election day, he said, adding that next week the RNC will report just under $26 million in fundraising for July, with over $75 million cash on hand.

Overall, Davis deemed it an "incredibly exciting" time for the campaign, in which they believe they have "consolidated the base" around McCain's candidacy at a level that's equal to the Democrats' base consolidation around Obama.

"I'd prefer to have as many Republicans as Democrats [in the electorate]," Davis admitted, adding: "But that's the gift we were given upon getting the nomination."