- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

President Obama’s re-election campaign spent more in May than it did in the previous three months combined, records released Wednesday showed, as it ramped up an operation that has grown to more than 700 staffers across 44 states.

Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $59 million in May, compared with $58 million for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee (RNC) — though the Republican total is likely to go up on July 15, when the affiliated Romney Victory committee files its quarterly report.

The Romney camp early this month announced Mr. Romney, the RNC and the Romney Victory committee raised $77 million in May.

According to Wednesday’s report, the Obama campaign spent more on TV ads alone than Mr. Romney’s campaign raised that month. The Obama campaign spent $29 million on TV media and $ 2.6 million on payroll last month. It has $110 million on hand after raising $39 million and spending $44 million.

By comparison, Mr. Romney raised $23 million, spent only $16 million, and has $17 million on hand. One-quarter came from small donors, giving $200 or less, while $7 million was transferred from the RNC, which typically accepts donations of $30,000.

The Obama campaign invested heavily on digital strategy, spending $5.4 million on online ads and more on websites and computer equipment. Online advertisements reach more people for less money compared to television, and a crop of sophisticated technologists the campaign has hired recently are tasked with identifying potential voters.

Meanwhile, it went light on travel. The arm of the campaign conducting high-dollar fundraisers spent $230,000 on travel in May. That’s in part because Mr. Obama benefits from the use of Air Force One to ferry him to events.

The Romney campaign spent $5 million on media, $2.4 on direct mail, $1.3 on digital consulting.

But the campaigns and party committees are only part of the picture.

Mr. Obama’s super PAC, Priorities USA Action, ended months of miserable fundraising, bringing in $4 million from wealthy donors, including three who gave $1 million each. Those donors include Franklin Haney of Washington, who was indicted in 1998 on 42 counts of making illegal campaign contributions to Democrats, including President Clinton. He later was acquitted in the case. They also include David desJardins, a former Google engineer, of California.

But the super PAC run by a former Romney strategist, Restore Our Future, continued to raise more from wealthy individuals and businesses, with 130 donors giving a total of $5 million in May, including two individuals giving $500,000 each and several limited liability companies with only post office boxes as addresses who gave a third of a million each.

Between Restore Our Future and other conservative super PACs, such as American Crossroads and Freedomworks, Republicans are expected to outspend Democrats in the presidential race.