The $1 Billion Campaign

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Obama $379,226,421 The Illinois senator decided to forgo public financing, which allowed his record haul.

Nixon $325,080,684 Tricky Dick kept $350,000 in cash as part of a political slush fund. Its discovery helped reveal the depths of the Watergate scandal.

Lincoln $2,543,782 Honest Abe wrote a friend, “I could not raise ten thousand dollars if it would save me from the fate of John Brown.” The nascent Republican Party eventually raised 10 times that amount.

Eisenhower $55,190,481 Author of “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” slogan creates first national television campaign for Eisenhower. The 20-second spots were called “Eisenhower Answers America.”

Carter $84,789,740 Public financing of elections began, which requires candidates to cap spending.

McKinley $84,248,313 Mark Hanna—McKinley’s Karl Rove—started the first systematic fundraising campaign aimed at corporations. Standard Oil and J.P. Morgan coughed up $250,000.

Truman $25,127,608 Truman covered more than 21,000 miles over the course of a10-month campaign.

Reagan $86,052,778 The Gipper hired Roger Ailes, now head of Fox News, to help him with messaging. Ailes gave the 73-year-old his winning debate line: “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

Bush $87,422,327 Outside funding is key. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth spent $22.5 million attacking John Kerry.

Research by Rob Verger

Totals represent amount spent during general-election campaigns in 2011 dollars.