Obama helps Democrats outpace Republican fundraising

WASHINGTON Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:36pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, May 30, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, May 30, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats beat Republicans in the race for campaign dollars during May, as the president stepped up fundraising ahead of the 2012 contest for the White House.

The Democratic National Committee pulled in $10.5 million, compared with $6.2 million raised by the Republican National Committee, according to monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

The 2012 election may be the priciest ever, with Obama potentially topping $1 billion in campaign contributions, up from $750 million raised for his successful 2008 bid. Recent court decisions are likely to unleash billions more in cash from outside interest groups.

Democratic figures include a $6.5 million transfer from the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fund between the DNC and the Obama campaign.

Having Obama topping the ticket gives Democrats a big edge. In the past few election cycles, the party with the presidency raised more money in off years leading up to presidential elections, according to George Washington University's Campaign Finance Institute.

After two fundraisers on Monday in Washington, Obama will have held at least two dozen campaign events so far this year, according to a Democratic official.

Obama started his fundraising efforts earlier than most presidents, said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, which advocates for public financing of campaigns to limit the influence of special interests.

"If he is going to get anywhere close to spending $1 billion, he has to start now," he said.

Some observers say that Obama will not be able to court as many wealthy donors that backed him last time, now that he has more of a concrete policy record to run on.

The Obama campaign has set a goal of raising $60 million in the second quarter.

The party figures provide a benchmark for future fundraising, though most of the national committee funds for 2012 will likely be raised next year, according to Michael Malbin, executive director of Campaign Finance Institute.

SHORING UP FINANCES

Republicans are shoring up their finances after former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele spent little time raising money and alienated some donors with a series of gaffes. He left the job in January after losing a party election.

Democrats had less debt in May, at $13.5 million, compared with $18.5 million for the Republicans.

Republicans are chipping away at the approximately $24 million in debt it held when Steele left the RNC.

The Democrats had about $16.5 million in cash on hand at the end of May, while Republicans had nearly $6 million in cash on hand, according to filings.

Presidential candidate campaign reports for the second quarter are due at the end of June, and will provide the first head-to-head comparisons of the hopefuls thus far.

Among Obama's potential challengers, former Massachusetts presidential hopefuls Governor Mitt Romney and Representative Michele Bachmann stand out for their fundraising prowess.

(Additional reporting by Eric Johnson in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (8)
justuhvoter wrote:
So let’s get this straight — since his record in office is so dismal, Obama has to spend an historical record ONE BILLION dollars on a new smoke-and-mirrors campaign to get re-elected. If this guy was so good, he wouldnt have to spend anything…….. oh right, O-Blame-a’s on-going failures are always someone else’s fault.

Jun 20, 2011 5:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SanPa wrote:
The GOP should do fine … the Supreme Court gave them nearly infinite funding privileges via corporate sponsors. I predict that no ads for toothpaste, sanitary products, or J.G. Wentworth will air in the 3 months leading to the 2012 elections.

Jun 20, 2011 6:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bck555 wrote:
@SanPa – So there is no misunderstanding on the real beneficiary of the Supreme Court ruling, just watch how fast BO gets to that 1 Billion number. Unions are now exempt from reporting their contributions and are grouped into the “corporate” donors that the left claimed would be out of control. What a smokescreen!

Jun 20, 2011 7:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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