By Tim Reid
(Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley raised more than $11 million between July and September, according to her campaign, a significant haul that reflects growing interest in her bid to take on former U.S. President Donald Trump for the party's nomination.
Three months before Republicans hold their first nominating contest in Iowa, the former South Carolina governor is trying to overtake Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running a distant second to Trump, the runaway frontrunner in the Republican primary race.
DeSantis' campaign announced last week that he had raised $15 million in the third quarter, but only $5 million of that can be spent on the Republican nominating battle. Haley's campaign says she now has $9.1 million that can be spent on the primary race.
Donations to political campaigns are earmarked for primary fights and general election campaigns, and cannot be switched between the two funds.
Both DeSantis and Haley's campaigns released their third-quarter fundraising totals before they must officially file them on Oct. 15. Their money hauls are dwarfed by Trump's, whose campaign recently announced that he raised $45.5 million between July and September and has $36 million that can be spent on the nominating fight.
Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, has emerged as a rival to DeSantis in the battle to become the main Trump alternative after two strong debate performances and a tireless campaign schedule. She now eclipses DeSantis in some recent opinion polls in the early nominating state of New Hampshire.
Haley's campaign took in money from more than 40,000 new donors in the third quarter, according to her campaign.
"We have seen a big surge in support and have real momentum," said Haley spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas.
(Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Ross Colvin and Bill Berkrot)