WASHINGTON - Major donors supportive of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney spent millions of dollars last month to get their candidate elected. But outside political groups helping Romney are poised to account for a growing share of that fundraising largess.
Both Obama and Romney's campaigns showed strong fundraising hauls in May. Romney's campaign joined with the Republican Party to raise more than $76 million last month, outpacing Obama and the Democrats' $60 million haul during the same period.
Meanwhile, GOP-supportive "super" political committees - operating under relaxed campaign-finance regulations - are expected to bring in more than $1 billion this election, according to an Associated Press review of past campaign spending data and fundraising projections. That includes cash that outside groups have spent on expensive advertising critical of Obama.
The calculus raises the specter that Obama, who broke fundraising records four years ago by hauling in $750 million, may be the first incumbent president to be out-raised by his opponent. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash but can't coordinate their efforts with the candidates they support.
One group, Restore Our Future, on Wednesday reported raising $8 million in May and $64 million so far. It spent more than $55 million to defeat Romney's opponents during the GOP primary, and it plans high-dollar financial aid from both Romney supporters and his former opponents' donors.
The biggest contributions to Restore Our Future came from a trio of firms linked to Houston-based businessman Robert T. Brockman, who previously backed a super PAC supporting Romney rival Texas Gov. Rick Perry.