Crossroads announcing $25 million ad push

By Philip Elliott

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 16 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Obama's campaign and the Democratic Party ended March with about $124 million cash on hand, while Romney and the GOP reported $43 million left in the bank at the end of that month, according to federal reports.

But the president's money advantage is minimized by the campaign cash raised by Republican-leaning super PACs.

Crossroads GPS told the IRS it raised more than $77 million through December. Donors could include individuals, businesses or trade groups. Without naming names, Crossroads reported two gifts of $10 million each and four of more than $4 million.

American Crossroads, its ally, has raised $100 million so far this election cycle to defeat Obama and support the Republican nominee. Combined, the Crossroads twins have announced plans to spend as much as $300 million to influence the presidential election, with longtime George W. Bush political adviser Karl Rove guiding them.

While the Republican groups legally can't coordinate directly with the Romney campaign, they do coordinate with each other. Leaders of some top Republican super PACs attend a monthly meeting hosted by Crossroads to share information and devise strategy to deny Obama a second term. That may mean, for example, taking turns ensuring Romney has a presence on the air — or, rather, the Republican criticisms against Obama are aired — even if his campaign itself can't afford to run its own ads yet.

The Romney campaign has spent no money on TV ads since Romney's Republican opponents dropped out and cleared his path to the nomination.

Republicans have generally welcomed the emergence of super PACs, and several GOP-leaning groups spent millions to take control of the House and pick up six Senate seats in 2010. Obama sharply criticized the emergence of super PACs that year but ultimately green-lighted contributions to Priorities USA Action after it became clear that his campaign and other Democrats would be vastly outgunned otherwise.

By law, campaigns and the outside groups are forbidden from working with each other. But at times like this, the lines of separation seem blurred if not crossed.

Strategists for the super PACs insist they are operating independently and are not relying on signals from the presidential campaigns as to what advertising strategy to pursue. But campaign finance watchdogs are crying foul, arguing that super PACs have effectively become high-dollar shadow campaign operations for candidates otherwise constrained by much stricter federal campaign finance rules.

Associated Press writers Beth Fouhy in New York and Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.

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