WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney outraised President Barack Obama in May, the first time the GOP presidential challenger has jumped ahead of Obama and his prodigious fundraising apparatus. The numbers illustrate how Romney and the Republican Party have jelled as a force after a protracted GOP primary.
Romney and his party raised more than $76 million last month, the campaign said Thursday. Obama's campaign reported that it and the Democratic Party raised $60 million for the month.
Obama, forced onto the defensive by lackluster employment numbers, launched a new television ad Thursday in Florida and eight other key election-year states targeting Congress and blaming lawmakers for not acting on his jobs proposals. The approach expands the ad focus for Obama, who had been going after Romney.
The fundraising numbers and Obama's new ad signal a new stage in the campaign as Romney capitalizes on his emergence as the GOP's standard-bearer and as Obama is forced to confront the political implications of a weak economic recovery.
For Romney, the latest figure represents a significant jump in fundraising. He and the GOP brought in $40 million in April, just short of the $43.6 million Obama and his party raised that month. Romney is getting a significant boost from Republican-leaning super PACs that have raised far more and spent far more than their Democratic-leaning counterparts.
Romney, stepping up his criticism of Obama, campaigned and was raising money Thursday in Missouri. In a speech at a factory in St. Louis, Romney accused Obama not only of a failure of policy, but of "a moral failure of tragic proportions."
Citing millions of unemployed or underemployed Americans, Romney said Obama nevertheless claimed he was doing a great job. "I will not be that president of doubt and deception," he said.
Obama was mixing more fundraising with official business Thursday as he wrapped up a two-day West Coast trip that included four fundraisers Wednesday. He started the day in the Los Angeles area at a breakfast fundraiser for about 300 people. Tickets started at $2,500.
Later, addressing about 2,500 college students at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Obama picked up on the theme of his latest campaign ad and blamed congressional inaction for the lack of additional job growth.
"If they had taken all the steps I was pushing for back in September we could have put even more Americans back to work, we could have sliced through these headwinds more easily," Obama said.