President Obama Outraises Mitt Romney In August
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm RenÃ©e Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Fundraising reports filed last night by the presidential campaigns look like recent public opinion polls - they show President Obama with a narrow advantage in monthly fundraising last month, although Republican Mitt Romney has the edge by some other measures.
MONTAGNE: Money is not everything in a presidential race since both candidates get intense exposure in the media for free, but the money does make a difference as the campaigns carpet bomb key states with ads.
INSKEEP: NPR's Peter Overby has been tracking the campaign money for years and has the latest numbers as voting time approaches.
PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: Each candidate is raising money for his own campaign committee, plus his national party committee, and a joint fundraising committee or two. So what you see depends on what you look at. In cash-on-hand, the overall Romney organization finished August with $168.5 million. That's $43 million more than the Obama organization. But President Obama outraised his opponent, especially when you look at the campaign committees themselves.
Donors gave nearly $71 million to Obama For America, just $27 million to Romney For President. Bill Allison is editorial director of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation which tracks political money.
BILL ALLISON: You know, despite the surge that Romney had in the summer in terms of fundraising, you know, Barack Obama remains the king of fundraising.
OVERBY: August was not a good month for the Romney organization which this summer looked like a fundraising juggernaut. Big-donor money earmarked for the primary season started to run out. And there was a sharp fall-off in contributions of $200 and less. It translates into roughly 55 thousand fewer small donors than the month before.
The campaign fixed its cash flow with a $20 million loan. This isn't unheard-of in presidential races and the Romney campaign says it's now paid off $9 million. But meanwhile, Romney cut back on TV ads in August and the Obama campaign was able to dominate in battleground states.
The ads against Obama came mainly from two so-called social welfare organizations, Crossroads G-P-S and Americans for Prosperity. Bill Allison points out that these groups, unlike the campaign, have no contribution limits.
ALLISON: The one saving grace for Mitt Romney, and it's true throughout this campaign, these organizations that draw the bulk of their donations from a very few people are able to have this incredibly outsized impact.
OVERBY: Romney's cash flow problem has raised eyebrows. And last night his report was drawing scrutiny for another financial decision carried out after his big speech at the Tampa convention.
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OVERBY: Romney's report shows that the following day the campaign paid bonuses to seven top aides. The payments ranged from $25,000 to $37,500 dollars - $187, 500 dollars in all. The bonuses were paid even as the Obama TV campaign was starting to move the poll numbers in battleground states. The result: an emerging lead that Mr. Obama continues to hold.
The Romney campaign didn't respond last night to a request for comment. Meanwhile, the pro-Obama superPAC reported its best month ever. Priorities USA Action collected slightly more than $10 million, out-raising the pro-Romney superPAC Restore Our Future for the first time. And Priorities USA Action may get more if donors get the joke made by President Obama this week at a New York fundraiser.
He told the crowd that Democrats can't match the pro-Republican supePACS but, quote, "If somebody here has a $10 million check - I can't solicit it from you, but feel free to use it wisely." The crowd laughed. But it's illegal for a candidate to solicit that kind of money for a superPAC. Again, Bill Allison.
ALLISON: The rule is you can only solicit up to $5,000 for these things if you're a federal candidate. He said it jokingly, and it's awfully hard to know, you know, whether or not the FEC would take that seriously as a violation.
OVERBY: Of course, even if someone did file a complaint, it's safe to say nothing would happen before Election Day. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.