WASHINGTON, Oct 4 (Reuters) Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, an anti-war libertarian who has clashed with his rivals over Iraq, raised 5 million dollars for his White House bid in the last three months.
Paul's campaign said on Wednesday the nine-term Texas congressman raised nearly 5.1 million dollars in the quarter ended September 30, and had 5.3 million dollars in the bank for the final push to the first nominating votes in January.
The surprisingly strong performance by Paul, an obstetrician-gynecologist from the Houston area, more than doubled his 2.3 million dollars haul in the second quarter and reinforced the grass-roots strength of his large online fan base.
''Dr Paul's message is freedom, peace and prosperity,'' said campaign chairman Kent Snyder. ''As these fund-raising numbers show, more Americans each day are embracing Dr Paul's message.'' Paul has been a formidable presence in Republican presidential debates, challenging top rivals like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain and strongly condemning the Iraq war.
Giuliani leads Republicans in national polls of the November 2008 election race. Paul still registers in single digits in those polls, but routinely scores much higher in Internet surveys and snap polls taken after debates.
Paul's financial performance dwarfed Republican rival Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher whose campaign said he raised 1 million dollars in the third financial quarter.
Huckabee had hoped a second-place finish in the Iowa straw poll in August would give his campaign new momentum, but his total was barely higher than the 765,000 dollars he raised in the second quarter.
Most of the other Republican presidential contenders have not officially announced their fund-raising totals for the last three months. The detailed financial reports are due to the Federal Election Commission by October 15.
Paul's cash puts him in a position to expand his campaign operation and run advertising in the three months before the first nominating votes in the kick-off state of Iowa. His campaign set a goal of raising 4 million dollars in October.
Democratic candidates generally have been raising more than their Republican counterparts, but Paul's performance puts him in the same financial territory as two prominent Democrats -- the 5.2 million dollars raised by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and 7 million dollars raised by former Sen. John Edwards.
Reuters YA DB0925