WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies together hauled in more than $60 million for his re-election campaign in May, a large jump as he struggles to maintain a fundraising edge against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
The new totals, boosted by money raked in from glitzy Hollywood events, helped Obama easily surpass April’s donations of $43.6 million, which had marked a decline from the month before as Romney closed the contributions gap.
It was also a dose of good news for Obama after a Republican victory in the closely watched Wisconsin governor recall election raised warning flags over Democratic fundraising and campaign organizing that could pose problems for the president in the November 6 general election.
Obama’s campaign staff announced the new figures in a series of Twitter messages on Thursday, saying, “Thanks for everyone who chipped in.” Romney’s campaign has not yet released its fundraising totals for May.
Obama’s advisers increasingly are concerned that his campaign money advantage as a sitting president is being undercut by huge sums being raised by conservative outside groups to buy advertising to attack his record.
More than 572,000 people contributed last month to the Obama campaign and Democratic groups affiliated with it, and more than 147,000 of them were first-time donors, the president’s campaign said. Obama’s team said 98 percent of donations last month were for less than $250. The average donation was $54.94, it added.
The president’s May totals included a fundraiser with actor George Clooney, who helped raise nearly $15 million with an event at his Los Angeles home along with a separate raffle offering tickets for small-amount donors.
June could also provide an increase in funds for Obama, who was finishing up a two-day visit to California where he collected money from well-heeled donors in San Francisco and celebrity-studded events in Los Angeles.
That follows joint New York appearances on Monday with former President Bill Clinton that raised more than $3.5 million.
Obama returns to New York next week for a fundraiser hosted by actress Sarah Jessica Parker.
Republicans have mocked Obama’s coziness with the show-business set to paint him as out of touch with ordinary Americans, an attempt to turn the tables on his efforts to cast them as the party beholden to the rich.
Romney had closed in on Obama in fundraising in April as his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination stepped aside. Romney, a former private equity executive and Massachusetts governor, raised $40.1 million that month for his campaign and the Republican National Committee.
Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s recall victory on Tuesday fueled new money worries for Obama’s re-election prospects, already threatened by the struggling U.S. economy and stubbornly high unemployment.
Walker’s surprisingly easy win over Democrat Tom Barrett was propelled by a big turnout from a motivated Republican base of voters, and by heavy spending by out-of-state conservatives who flooded Wisconsin with campaign cash.
Both trends raised difficult questions for Obama’s re-election campaign, which has struggled to match the enthusiasm of his 2008 White House run and compete financially with hundreds of millions of dollars being raised by conservative outside groups known as super-PACS.
Editing by Will Dunham