Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee trounced President Obama and national Democrats in fundraising last month, according to numbers both campaigns released Thursday, signaling that the Republicans can compete on equal footing with the White House in November.
Mr. Romney's campaign said he and the RNC together raised $76.8 million in May, easily topping Mr. Obama's announced haul of about $60 million. The Romney campaign said it had $107 million in cash on hand at the end of the month — a solid total given that he just emerged from a longer-than-expected contested primary process.
By Thursday afternoon, the Obama campaign was begging its supporters to step up and close the gap in June.
"We got beat," Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager, said in an email challenging donors to pony up.
It was only last month that Mr. Romney secured enough delegates to become the presumed Republican presidential nominee and was able to turn his attention full time to the battle with Mr. Obama. In that time, Mr. Romney has proved to be a fundraising force.
Both candidates were fundraising Thursday, with Mr. Romney in Missouri and Mr. Obama in Los Angeles.
Asked to comment on his fundraising win, the Associated Press reported that Mr. Romney said only: "Long way to go."
Final numbers for May are due to the Federal Election Commission later this month. Those will provide an exact look at the composition of each man's donors, but Mr. Romney's campaign said the combined campaign-RNC effort collected donations from nearly 300,000 small-dollar donors, defined as those giving $250 or less.
Those donors, though, accounted for only $12 million of the money raised — signaling that he continues to draw the vast majority of his money from high-dollar contributors.
For both men, the May numbers were improvements. Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee raised a combined $46.3 million in April, and Mr. Romney raised $40.1 million that month.
The Obama campaign downplayed Mr. Romney's May fundraising advantage by saying the $10 million edge was expected because Mr. Romney had just formed a joint committee with the Republican National Committee. With the primary election process over, those donors who had given the maximum amount during that period could make general-election contributions.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said Mr. Romney's strong May fundraising numbers aren't surprising, considering Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, who ran for president in 2004, outraised President Bush 2-to-1 shortly after he garnering enough delegates for the nomination.
"We anticipated that they would beat us this month," Mr. LaBolt said during a conference call with reporters, noting that Mr. Obama is focused on expanding his donor base.
"Certainly, there will be a lot of special-interest spending against the president this fall [geared toward] maintaining the special breaks for their corporations that help them but don't serve the national interest," Mr. LaBolt said. "That should serve as a clarion call to our donors to give now to build the largest grass-roots campaign in history across the country."
The Obama campaign surpassed the 2.2 million donor mark with more than 572,000 people donating in May with 174,000 of them donating for the first time. Nearly all of the donations — 98 percent — the campaign received in May were for less than $250, and the average donation was $54.94, the campaign said in subsequent tweets.
The announcement was made amid reports that Mr. Obama has spent more time fundraising this election cycle than any other president in history and one night after a star-studded Hollywood fundraiser with 600 gay donors, some of whom paid $25,000 each to attend. The amount raised Monday night was not included in the May fundraising figure.
During the Hollywood event, Mr. Obama told the crowd he "could not be prouder" of his administration's work to advance equality of gays.
Meanwhile, Mr. Romney has held high-profile fundraisers of his own, including with businessman and reality-television personality and real-estate mogul Donald Trump.
Mr. Romney is doing much better than the last Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, at this point. In May 2008, Mr. McCain and the RNC combined to raise about $45 million and had about $85 million in the bank.
© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.