Mitt Romney seeking donations for general election, setting up joint fundraising with RNC

Holly Bailey

MILWAUKEE, Wis.—Mitt Romney has not yet officially clinched the Republican presidential nomination, but he's not wasting any time in amassing the campaign money he'll need to take on President Barack Obama in the fall.

A senior Romney aide, who declined to be quoted on the record, confirms the former Massachusetts governor has started to raise general election funds for his 2012 bid under the assumption he will be the party's eventual nominee. The campaign is also moving to set up joint fundraising committees with the Republican National Committee that would allow Romney donors to contribute as much as $75,000 per person to his campaign by giving to the RNC, state parties and the official campaign account.

The move, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is an effort to blunt Obama's fundraising advantage heading into the fall. Obama has already raised nearly $300 million for his re-election effort—half of which has gone to a joint fundraising committee set up between the campaign and the Democratic National Committee. That's almost four times what Romney has raised for his campaign so far.

But it's a tricky move for the RNC, which cannot officially mobilize on behalf of a candidate until the primary is over. To avoid the appearance of favoring one candidate over another, the party also encouraged Romney's rivals to consider a joint fundraising effort—though there is little sign any that of the other candidates, who have struggled to amass the cash Romney has raised, will participate.

"We have, as have all of the campaigns, talked with the Republican National Committee about how to best prepare to take on President Obama, including entering in to joint fundraising committee," Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, said in a statement. "Our donors are ready to mobilize for November and understand that, for the Republican nominee to be able to compete with the $1 billion Obama machine, they need to get started now.  We are confident Gov. Romney will be that nominee."

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