Romney, Republican allies, raised $111.8 million from October 1-17

WASHINGTON Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:15pm EDT

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney greets diners at First Watch cafe, where he picked up some food, in Cincinnati, Ohio October 25, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney greets diners at First Watch cafe, where he picked up some food, in Cincinnati, Ohio October 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and party allies raised $111.8 million from October 1 to 17, his campaign said on Thursday, a period that included two of the three televised presidential debates.

Romney's strong performance in the first debate with President Barack Obama on October 3 notably increased donations, the campaign said. The two candidates have since been locked in a dead heat before the November 6 election.

As of October 17, Romney, the Republican National Committee and state parties had $169 million left in cash on hand, they said.

Less than half of that, $67.6 million, was in the bank account of the RNC, according to its financial disclosure filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

"There are less than two weeks left, but we still have much hard work to do to ensure that Mitt Romney and (running mate) Paul Ryan win in November and bring real change to Washington," said Spencer Zwick, Romney's national financial chairman.

The 2012 election is on track to being the most expensive race in U.S. history, thanks to massive spending on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts by the campaigns and by outside groups that have no fundraising limits.

The Romney campaign said on Thursday that just under 92 percent of all donations to Romney and the Republican Party in the first half of October were $250 or less, and that the team had raised $38.2 million through donations under $250.

Romney has held a cash-on-hand advantage over Obama due to strong fundraising by the RNC, while Obama's campaign on its own has dwarfed Romney's in the money stakes in recent months.

The RNC disclosures on Thursday showed the party took in $18.9 million in the first part of October and spent $34.8 million. The party was $9.9 million in debt.

Obama and his Democratic allies in September raised $181 million, while Romney and the RNC took in $170.5 million last month. Obama's campaign has not yet released its October totals.

Financial disclosures for the first half of October are due to the Federal Election Commission by campaigns and "Super PACs" by the end of Thursday.

(Additional reporting by Alexander Cohen; Editing by Xavier Briand and Peter Cooney)

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