[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/21/art.split.ap.jpg caption="Clinton and Obama are far outpacing McCain in the money race."](CNN) - John McCain raised around $11 million last month, according to federal filings released this week – about one-third the sum raised by Hillary Clinton, a fifth of Barack Obama’s February haul, and slightly less than he’d raised in January as a primary candidate.
The overall gap between the three senators also increased: McCain has now raised just over $60 million, compared with Clinton’s $156 million and Obama’s $194 million.
The news for McCain was not all grim: last month, the Arizona senator was able to bein paying back the nearly $4 million loan he took out when the financial situation for his then-struggling campaign looked dire.
McCain spent just $8.7 million in February, as he he effectively captured the Republican nomination. By contrast, Obama and Clinton spent $42.8 million in February and $31.8 million respectively.
The two remaining Democratic contenders ended the month with a healthy amount of cash in hand: $33 million for Clinton and $39 million for Obama. The numbers are not quite as close as they appear: Obama has less than a million dollars in debt, while Clinton owes nearly $9 million in addition to the $5 million loan she made to her own campaign in January. McCain had $8 million cash on hand.
February’s totals seem to make it more likely that McCain may need to accept public financing for the general election – putting him at a disadvantage to both of his potential rivals, who have avoided committing to abiding under the restrictions required by the federal financing system, including strict fundraising and spending caps.