August 11, 2011 / 6:39 PM / 8 years ago

Republican donors hedging 2012 election bets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hundreds of Republican donors, including some party kingmakers, are hedging their bets by donating to more than one presidential candidate, reflecting the instability of the field looking to unseat President Barack Obama in 2012.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks to supporters in Des Moines, Iowa August 10, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

More than 300 donors gave at least $200 to more than one Republican hopeful during the first half of 2011, according to a report issued on Thursday by the Center for Responsive Politics. The most common double donation was to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

“Donors motivated by ideological reasons are not sure who to support,” said Michael Beckel, an analyst at the center.

“There are also donors who want to make an investment, and they want the access and other perks that can come with making a sizable contribution to a candidate.”

At least 66 donors gave to both Romney and Pawlenty, including Texas billionaires Bob Perry and Harold Simmons — who each gave $5,000 to Pawlenty and $2,500 to Romney, according to the analysis.

That duo gave financial backing to the infamous “Swift Boat” advertisements in 2004 questioning Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s Vietnam War service.

Romney leads most national polls and the all-important money race heading into Thursday night’s debate in Iowa.

Romney, a co-founder of the private equity firm Bain Capital, raised $18 million in the second quarter, while most other Republican presidential candidates trailed, reporting sums near the $4 million range.

Meanwhile, Obama posted $86 million, when combined with funds raised through the Democratic National Committee.

Pawlenty has probably spent the most time and resources so far in Iowa, and is counting on momentum from a Saturday straw poll to lift his campaign out of single digits in national polls.

In a surprising finding, about two dozen donors gave at least $1,000 to both Romney and Obama. They include Gretchen Burke, the chief operating officer at Comcast Corp and Michael Troy, a Goldman Sachs executive.

Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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