Kerry raised at least $34 million in June

Friday, July 2nd 2004, 6:14 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Coast-to-coast stops on the presidential fund-raising trail paid off for Democrat John Kerry in June as he collected $34 million and boosted his record total to more than $180 million.

He has about a month of fund raising left before he receives about $75 million in taxpayer funding for the general-election campaign, which starts July 29 when he is nominated at the Democratic convention in Boston. That's the only money Kerry will be allowed to spend campaigning until the Nov. 2 election.

Kerry returns to the campaign trail Friday after two days off, beginning a Fourth of July weekend bus tour of small Midwestern towns in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, to promote his plans for rural America.

Kerry says those parts of the country have been hurt by President Bush's record on education, trade, budget cuts, health care and the distribution of high-speed Internet access.

With the Democratic convention just weeks away and Kerry's choice of a running mate eagerly anticipated, the pool of talked-about candidates from which he could pick has shrunk by one. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson took himself off the list Thursday, telling Kerry he wants to keep his promise to the state's residents to serve a full, four-year term.

A top Hispanic Democrat, Richardson was viewed as someone who could help Kerry appeal to Hispanics.

Kerry, the first Democrat to opt out of public financing and its $45 million spending limit for the primary season, holds the Democratic record for the most money raised and spent in a presidential primary campaign.

His total includes a $6 million personal loan, and he must decide by the time of the convention whether to use campaign contributions to pay off a mortgage he took out on his Boston home to finance the loan.

Bush is setting an overall record for presidential money raised and spent. He has collected more than $220 million and is on track to surpass $250 million by the time of the GOP convention in late August.

Bush long ago surpassed his record from 2000, when he raised roughly $105 million during the primaries.

His re-election campaign has not yet released June fund-raising figures, but Bush is expected to report having $64 million in the bank at the start of July.

Bush has about a month longer than Kerry to raise and spend private campaign donations. He also is expected to accept government funding for the general campaign and will receive his check after he is nominated in New York in early September.

Both candidates will detail their contributions and spending in reports to the Federal Election Commission due July 20.