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Obama enjoys financial edge

21 April 2012, 13:27

Washington - President Barack Obama's re-election effort enjoyed a huge financial advantage over Republican rival Mitt Romney last month, outraising the former Massachusetts governor by millions of dollars.

A nasty primary battle between Romney and his Republican challengers for the party's nomination took a financial toll on his presidential campaign, which raised $12.6 million in March and left Romney with about $10 million in the bank by month's end. Romney has all but secured his party's presidential nomination since his main rival dropped out of the state-by-state Republican primary race.

All told, Obama and the Democratic Party raised a combined $53 million in donations during that period, while Romney with his party pulled in about half of that.

Obama has stuffed more than $104 million into his campaign war chest, but he is facing the prospect of being swamped by outside Republican groups in fundraising. That's why he decided to reverse course and give his blessing to super Political Action Committees, which can to raise and spend unlimited sums to support political campaigns. The groups must legally remain independent from the candidates they support, but many are staffed with former campaign aides who have intimate knowledge of the campaigns' strategy.

An anticipated fire hose of cash from major Republican super PACs and the Republican Party is likely to bring some financial parity to the general election, for which Romney only recently started collecting donations.

Wealthy donors

Super PACs like American Crossroads and its non-profit arm, Crossroads GPS, raised $100 million this election cycle, and the groups plan to flood the airwaves in coming months with ads critical of Obama.

Also helping Romney is the Restore Our Future super PAC, which reported an $8.6 million last month, largely from a handful of wealthy donors and some continued supporters. The group, for its part, spent more than $11 million on TV spots during the month, coming off a successful track record of battering Romney's Republican primary opponents with attack ads.

For the first time since the March 6 "Super Tuesday" Republican primary contests, voters got a look at just how much money presidential candidates and their supporters have been raking in. Friday marks nearly three months since Obama's campaign changed course and asked supporters to pony up cash to a favourable super PAC, although its fundraising figures weren't yet available late Friday.

Financial reports due on Friday to the Federal Election Commission were expected to show much red ink struggling campaigns are bleeding — or how much money some groups have been stuffing into their war chests.

The Republican National Committee reported a March fundraising haul of $13.7 million, which will boost the party's eventual nominee during the general election. The party will formally announce its nominee at a national convention in August.


Obama's fundraising advantage puts him at a less-than-solid position when compared with the tens of millions of dollars the sister Crossroads groups have amassed so far. During the last six months of 2011 alone, GPS brought in $28 million from only a few dozen major donors, recent tax filings show. Crossroads has said it plans to raise more than $300 million to beat Obama.

Countering Crossroads' millions in ad spending is Priorities USA Action, a super PAC founded by former Obama advisers. From early 2011 through the end of February, however, the group and its non-profit arm raised about $10 million. Priorities USA Action, like other super PACs supporting Republican candidates, has counted on major financial support from a handful of wealthy donors.

- AP


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