RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. OK. Get ready to wrap your head around some big numbers. Last night was the latest filing deadline for fundraising reports in the presidential campaigns, and the totals are staggering. President Obama and the Democratic Party's grand total is north of $900 million dollars for the current cycle. Mitt Romney and the Republicans topped $800 million. Both sides are on track to raise and spend $1 billion by Election Day. NPR's S.V. Date reports.
S.V. DATE, BYLINE: The totals through the end of September reported to the Federal Election Commission don't even count hundreds of millions of dollars raised and spent by superPACs. Nor do they include hundreds of millions more from mainly Republican tax-exempt groups.
JOHN WEAVER: The money that's being spent in a handful of places is utterly ridiculous.
DATE: That's Republican John Weaver, former top strategist to Arizona Senator John McCain. It was McCain who co-authored the campaign finance law that was largely gutted by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, opening the door to big money. Weaver warns that donors, Democrats and Republicans, are not signing five, six, even eight-figure checks out of the goodness of their hearts. They want something, like a new law or changes to regulations.
WEAVER: There's no other reason to give that kind of money, and people who want to suggest otherwise are not telling us the truth.
DATE: But predating Citizens United, it was Mr. Obama himself who in 2008 became the first major party candidate to forgo federal financing and the spending limits that come with it. This year, that limit would have been $91 million, but neither candidate took the deal. Both had well over that amount in the bank going into October and continued holding fundraisers.
SHEILA KRUMHOLZ: They're spending all of this time cloistered in fancy hotel conference rooms and penthouse apartments.
DATE: Sheila Krumholz runs the Center for Responsive Politics.
KRUMHOLZ: If they're spending time in Manhattan or Beverley Hills, that means they're not spending time with and answering the questions of voters in swing states.
DATE: On the trail yesterday, neither candidate had any public events as they prepped for Monday's debate. But Governor Romney did take some time out Saturday night for another high-dollar fundraiser. S.V. Date, NPR News, Washington.