WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate John McCain spent $32 million in July, with nearly $2 of every $3 devoted to advertising, according to financial reports filed Wednesday.
McCain, in documents submitted to the Federal Election Commission, reported raising more than $26 million during the month. He began August with more than $21 million in the bank.
His aggressive media strategy _ he spent nearly $19 million to produce and place advertising spots _ kept him on the air as much as Democratic rival Barack Obama.
The deadline for filing July financial reports is midnight Wednesday. Obama had not yet submitted his, but the campaign announced last weekend that he had raised more than $51 million in July.
McCain has agreed to accept $84 million in a federal campaign grant for September and October. That means he must spend all the money in the campaign's account by the end of the Republican National Convention in early September or donate the balance to the Republican National Committee.
Obama has decided to bypass the public funds in anticipation of raising far more money on his own. As a result, he has been trying to build up his cash reserves. His campaign has said he ended July with nearly $66 million in hand.
McCain's report shows that donors contributed nearly $21 million directly to his campaign. He also received $5.6 million in contributions through a joint victory fund set up with the RNC.
He showed a debt of $2 million.
In a related campaign money matter, the FEC is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether McCain should be allowed to reject federal matching funds he was entitled to receive during the primaries. Candidates can receive taxpayer money in the primaries based on the number of small contributions they have raised. Accepting the money limits a campaign's spending.
McCain had qualified for such funds, but decided not to accept them because he wanted to spend above the limits. Then-FEC Chairman David Mason informed McCain that he needed a vote of the FEC before withdrawing, but at the time the commission lacked a quorum to act. It is now at full strength.
The commission's staff has recommended that it approve McCain's withdrawal from the system.
But the Democratic National Committee sent the FEC a letter this week objecting to the scheduled vote. Instead, the DNC asked the commission to act on a complaint the Democratic Party filed in February accusing McCain of violating public finance laws.
In the letter, DNC general counsel Joseph Sandler said the FEC cannot vote to let McCain withdraw from the primary public funds program because McCain never requested that he be allowed to pull out.
The FEC is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans. It takes four votes to approve commission business.
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