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Mitt Romney beats President Obama in July fundraising, tweaks him over spending

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 8:23 a.m. MDT

In this Aug. 14, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign stop in Marshalltown, Iowa.  (Charles Rex Arbogast, File, Associated Press) In this Aug. 14, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign stop in Marshalltown, Iowa. (Charles Rex Arbogast, File, Associated Press)

With his cash advantage growing, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney felt comfortable enough to tweak President Barack Obama over his campaign spending during a fundraiser Tuesday.

"You've perhaps noticed in the paper, we're a little wiser in our spending of dollars than the other side, apparently," Romney said. "I'm not managing their campaign for them, but we're going to spend our money wisely, we're going to spend it to win."

According to a Monday Washington Post article, numbers from both campaigns show Romney leading Obama with cash on hand at the end of July, $185.9 million to $123.7 million. The numbers are totaled from the campaign, the national party committees and joint victory funds that raise money for both.

Together, Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee raised $101.3 million dollars in July, while Obama and the Democratic National Committee raised $75 million. The president's campaign raised $49 million in July, but it spent nearly $59 million at the same time.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves as he arrives for a campaign stop at LeClaire Manufacturing, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, in Midland, Texas. (Associated Press) Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves as he arrives for a campaign stop at LeClaire Manufacturing, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, in Midland, Texas. (Associated Press)

"Such a cash burn illustrates the heavy spending Obama's campaign has made this summer on advertisements designed to promote his own image and parry attacks from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and right-leaning outside groups," Politico reported.

Of the Obama campaign's July expenditures, $39.27 million went toward media buys, and another $8.75 went toward online advertisements. The Obama campaign also has about 800 paid staffers while Romney has fewer than half that number.

Romney is currently unable to spend much of his money until after the Republican National Convention, as federal election law prohibits candidates from spending money raised for the general election until officially a major party nominee. The same is true for Obama, although the president did not face primary competition.

An Associated Press analysis reports that Romney is attracting donors from traditionally Democratic areas of the U.S., including New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and Austin, Texas.

Super PAC money has heavily favored Republicans in the presidential race thus far, with ProPublica numbers showing a combined $202 million in campaign spending from all prominent PACs. Restore Our Future, which supports Romney, has spent $72 million. Priorities USA Action, which supports Obama, is the next highest spender at $19 million. Other PACs raised funds for specific candidates like Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman.

Reporters and pundits have pointed to a number of possible explanations for why Obama trails in both campaign and super PAC fundraising.

One reason, Ezra Klein posited at The Washington Post, is that the financial class gravitates toward the candidate most like them.

"In 2012, Mitt Romney is most like them," Klein wrote. "In fact, Romney is them. He worked in finance. He has a business degree from Harvard. He shares their hatred of deficits, their belief that the rich are being unfairly blamed for today's problems, their conviction that their work is of great social value, their certainty that if only politicians were more like titans of finance and industry, the country would be in a far better place. Obama, meanwhile, doesn't seem to respect them that much. And if there's anything that's fundamental to the finance class, it is self-respect."

An August New Yorker article echoed this point, quoting Democratic donors unhappy with the White House.

"There's been no thanks for anyone," an unnamed Democratic donor told reporter Jane Mayer. "I don't know if it's a personality thing, an ego thing or an intellectual thing. I just don't get it. But people want to be kissed. They want to be thanked."

The donor said he has been introduced to Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett twice, but she didn't remember who he was and "seemed to think she was blessing me by breathing in the same space."

Obama is "so interested in doing the right thing that he thought other people would be interested in him for doing the right thing, and he thinks that's all that's needed," the donor said.

The president has aggravated both flanks to some degree, Jay Cost wrote at The Weekly Standard. With only 46 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of liberals "strongly" approving of the president's job performance and the business community backing off, the campaign war chest "looks to be a fraction of what the total Republican campaign (from Romney to the RNC to super PACs) will bring to the table this fall."

Some of Obama's top 20 donors from 2008 that do not make the top 20 list in 2012 include Citigroup, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Latham & Watkins (L.A. law firm), Morgan Stanley, WilmerHale LLP (D.C. law firm) and UBS AG.

In a new e-book titled, "Obama's Last Stand," Politico's Glenn Thrush suggested that second-guessing over super PACs hurt the president's outside fundraising, while "Obama's refusal to cultivate the party's biggest checkbooks in a personal way the previous three years was making it hard enough to gain traction in fundraising for his own campaign."

On the Romney side, the addition of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., helped give the campaign a boost, with Romney's campaign press secretary Andrea Saul reporting that the campaign raised $3.5 million online in the 24 hours after the VP announcement, and a total of $7.4 million in 72 hours.

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama raised roughly $750 million, surpassing all of his White House opponents and the amount of money raised by all of the presidential candidates combined in 2004. The totals came after Obama became the first candidate to opt out of the public financing system, which then enabled him to raise as much money as possible.

Despite the fundraising and spending thus far, Romney and Obama are neck-in-neck in polls, with Gallup and Rasmussen putting Romney slightly ahead and AP-GfK putting Obama ahead.

Nate Silver of The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight cautiously cites a trend of Romney leading in swing state polls, saying that "Mr. Romney has made up some distance in the swing states."

Meanwhile, University of Colorado professors Ken Bickers and Michael Berry have used a model — which they say has correctly forecast every winner of the electoral since 1980 — to predict the winner of the 2012 contest. The new president, they say, will be Mitt Romney.

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