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Obama has strongest fundraising month of campaign, but Romney still tops him

By Melanie Mason, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney and the Republican Party claimed victory in the money race last month, outraising President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party by $35 million, according to figures put out by both campaigns Monday.

Obama and the Democratic National Committee had their strongest fundraising month of the campaign in June, reeling in a combined $71 million from more than 706,000 individual donors.

But that wasn’t enough to surpass Romney, who, along with the Republican National Committee and several state parties, pulled in $106.1 million, marking the second consecutive month the presumptive GOP nominee’s combined fundraising efforts outpaced those of the incumbent president. (In May, Romney’s joint fundraising pulled in $76.8 million, topping Obama’s combined take of $60 million).

The nine-figure haul propelled Romney to his best fundraising month yet, as the former Massachusetts governor continued to capitalize on the large checks, up to $75,800, he can now solicit through joint fundraising with the Republican Party and affiliated committees.

The total also was boosted by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obama’s health care law; a Romney spokesperson claimed $4.6 million — mostly in small donations — came into the joint fundraising effort in the 24 hours following the decision. The Obama campaign has said it too received a flood of donations after the health care ruling, but it has not specified the amount.

The Obama campaign’s chief operating officer, Anne Marie Habershaw, acknowledged the widening money gap in an email to donors that pressured donors to give more.

“We still got beat — and not by a little bit. Romney and Republicans raised more than $106 million, not even including money to pro-Romney super PACs,” Habershaw wrote.

“If we lose this election, it will be because we didn’t close the gap enough when we had the chance,” Habershaw continued, directing donors to the campaign’s online donations page.

The Romney campaign credited its June bounty to donors’ enthusiasm for ousting Obama from the White House.

“Mitt Romney’s message of restoring economic security and rebuilding our middle class is clearly resonating across the country,” said Spencer Zwick, Romney’s national finance chairman. “In the months to come, these resources will be crucial to highlighting the difference between President Obama’s broken promises and Mitt Romney’s plan to get America on the right track again.”

The Romney campaign said the tally of individual donors who gave to the campaign last month was not yet available.

For weeks, Obama campaign officials had anticipated a lopsided financial advantage in Romney’s favor, and were publicly speculating that the Romney campaign would have a more lucrative month.

In an e-mail to supporters in the last week of June, with the subject line “I will be outspent,” the Obama campaign sought to use Romney’s fundraising prowess as a rallying point for Democrats.

“I will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in his re-election campaign, if things continue as they have so far,” said the email signed by the president.

The prospect of a cash disadvantage is a notable reversal of fortune for Obama, who in 2008 smashed fundraising records in his race against Republican Sen. John McCain. The Obama campaign raised $745 million that cycle — more than double what McCain raised, including the $84 million in public financing the Republican received — and used that financial upper hand to flood the airwaves and build an extensive ground game.

This cycle, Obama got a leg up in the money chase because he was able to raise money jointly with the DNC from the start, which allowed him to collect five-figure checks while Romney was limited to $2,500 checks from individuals during his primary race. With his limits now raised to equal Obama’s, Romney has steadily chipped into the president’s advantage.

The former Massachusetts governor and the RNC ended June with $160 million in the bank. The Obama campaign declined to release its cash on hand figures.

More information on the campaigns’ war chests, and how they’ve been spending those resources, will be available later this month, when the financial reports are due to the Federal Election Commission.

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