WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time since the Super Tuesday primaries, voters are getting a look at just how much money presidential candidates and their supporters have been raking in. And whether big-dollar donors are heeding President Barack Obama's belated call for supporting an independent political action committee.
Financial reports due Friday to the Federal Election Commission will also show how much red ink the campaigns are bleeding — or, in the case of the Republican super PAC American Crossroads, how much money some groups have been stuffing in their war chests.
Indeed, much has changed since the March 6 Super Tuesday contests, when Republican voters in six out of 10 states chose Mitt Romney as their preferred nominee to compete against Obama. Rick Santorum has since folded his campaign, and Newt Gingrich has been working with a shoestring budget.
Obama's campaign already said it raised $53 million between it and the Democratic Party last month. But Friday's reports will detail just where his donors' money came from, and if he's added to an already-sizeable army of 500 paid staffers that — as of March 1 — was roughly five times the size of Romney's operation.
But Obama's fundraising advantage puts him at a less-than-solid position when compared with the tens of millions of dollars American Crossroads and its nonprofit arm, Crossroads GPS, have amassed so far. During the last six months of 2011 alone, GPS brought in $28 million from only a few dozen major donors, recent tax filings show. Crossroads has said it plans to raise more than $300 million to beat Obama.
Countering Crossroads' millions in ad spending is Priorities USA Action, a super PAC founded by former Obama advisers. From early 2011 through the end of February, however, the group and its nonprofit arm raised about $10 million. Priorities USA Action, like other super PACs supporting GOP candidates, has counted on major financial support from a handful of wealthy donors.
Those include very generous donors like Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, who have given more than $10 million combined to a super PAC supporting Gingrich. It's unclear, however, if the Winning Our Future PAC will still receive big contributions from Adelson now that Romney is the presumptive nominee.
Obama, for his part, is facing the prospect of being swamped by outside Republican groups in fundraising. That's why he decided three months ago to reverse course and give his blessing to super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals.
Most super PACs and presidential campaigns have until midnight Friday to submit their reports.
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