Romney raised more than Obama in May
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Mitt Romney's campaign fundraising significantly outpaced President Barack Obama's effort for the first time last month, increasing the likelihood that the Republican presidential candidate and his allies will far outspend their Democratic opponents by November.
Mr. Romney and the Republican National Committee said Thursday that they raised a combined $76.8 million in May, which is nearly as much as the presumed nominee brought in during the GOP primary season. Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee amassed $60 million in what was their best month so far, campaign officials said.
Mr. Romney's monthly haul serves to undercut Mr. Obama's reputation as the nation's pre-eminent political fundraiser and signals a growing confidence among Republicans that the former Massachusetts governor has a strong chance of defeating the incumbent.
The fundraising arms race has become one of the central features of the 2012 campaign, as each candidate crisscrosses the country for donor events on an almost-daily basis. The presidential contest alone could spur well more than $2 billion in spending by campaigns, parties and interest groups, with a likely advantage for Republicans.
"This is clearly an alarm," said Clinton administration aide Paul Begala, who advises a pro-Obama super-PAC that has struggled to raise money from liberal donors.
Brian Ballard, who chairs Mr. Romney's fundraising operation in Florida, said, "There's just this awakening that we have to turn the country around, and that Mitt actually could win."
Obama campaign aides said they had expected Mr. Romney to post strong fundraising numbers after clinching the Republican nomination in mid-April, and they maintain that the major financial threat to the president will come from super-PACs and other conservative groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina sent a fundraising email Thursday with the subject line: "We got beat."
Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told reporters, "We knew this day would come," noting that Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry outraised President George W. Bush by 2-to-1 after clinching the Democratic nomination in 2004.
Mr. Romney could still have difficulty catching up to Mr. Obama, who has stockpiled cash for more than a year and built campaign offices nationwide.
The Romney team and the RNC said they had $107 million in cash on hand at the end of May. Mr. Obama and the DNC, who did not release a May cash estimate, had nearly $140 million at the end of April. Official disclosure reports are not due until June 20.
Mr. Romney also continues to lag behind Mr. Obama in the proportion of donors who give small amounts, and many Romney supporters will be unable to give any more under federal campaign limits. About 15 percent of Mr. Romney's May total was donations of $200 or less; Mr. Obama has raised about 40 percent of his money from the smallest donations.
Since securing the GOP nomination, Mr. Romney has devoted himself to raising money nearly every day.
Mr. Obama's pace has been less frenetic, but not much: His 150th fundraiser of the 2012 cycle was a gay-focused event Wednesday, followed by an African American event Thursday.
But Romney fundraisers say his success in vanquishing Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and other party opponents has breathed new life into a fundraising effort that often struggled during the GOP primaries.
Casino moguls Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn have mobilized their networks in recent weeks on Mr. Romney's behalf, while a few prominent supporters of Mr. Obama's in 2008 -- including New York publisher Mort Zuckerman and Chicago businesswoman Susan Crown -- have gone all out to raise money for Mr. Romney since the primaries ended.
Romney fundraisers acknowledge he has reached for low-hanging fruit in his May-to-June fundraising sprint and must push to keep up the pace. Mr. Romney's top 100 bundlers are heading to a private retreat June 22-24 in Utah to plot out how to replicate the May success in the months ahead.
First Published June 8, 2012 12:00 am