The Obama campaign, which shattered all records for political fundraising in 2008, has concluded that it could be dramatically outspent this year by the GOP nominee and allied conservative groups, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing unnamed senior aides and advisers.
That revised analysis, spurred on by a wave of outside spending in the Republican primaries, led to President Barack Obama's decision this week to throw his weight behind the efforts of a Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action, that has struggled to remain competitive, taking in $4.1 million last year.
The move signals a turnabout for a politician who has spent much of his career railing against the influence of such groups on elections, calling them a "threat to democracy" during the 2010 midterms. It also underscores how much the landscape has changed since 2008, when Obama easily outdistanced his Republican opponent in fundraising.
Faced with conservative groups raising tens of millions of dollars in unlimited donations, officials said, Obama decided to cast aside idealism for pragmatism in an attempt to remain competitive in November. Aides say the issue came to a head during the Republican primary contests, as the potential size of GOP front-runner Mitt Romney's super PAC war chest became more apparent.
Longtime Obama adviser David Axelrod said there is an "array of guns pointed at us" from the Republican side.
"We were faced with a situation as to whether we could afford to play by two sets of rules," Axelrod said on MSNBC. "And the answer is obviously no."
The Democratic worries come despite a blockbuster fundraising year for the Obama campaign, which together with the Democratic National Committee raised $224 million. Obama's campaign raised $745 million during the 2008 election cycle, and advisers have long expected that his campaign will at least approach that goal again.