By Associated Press
PresidentÂ ObamaÂ hauled in more than $68 million for his campaign and theÂ Democratic PartyÂ during the final three months of 2011, a show of force that allows him to compete â€” for now at least â€” in the new reality of freewheeling outside political groups.
The latest infusion of money, announced Thursday, adds up to more than $220 million in 2011 for the presidentâ€™s re-election campaign and theÂ Democratic National Committee, puttingÂ Mr. ObamaÂ far ahead of his prospective Republican rivals. In most years, it might amount to a substantial fundraising advantage, but a flurry of so-called â€œsuper-PACsâ€ and big-dollar independent groups has changed the calculations on campaign money.
ObamaÂ campaign managerÂ Jim MessinaÂ said in a video to supporters that they collected more than $42 million for the quarter, with theÂ DNCbringing in more than $24 million, along with $1 million for a joint fund to help state parties in key states. That beat an internal goal of $60 million combined for the quarter.
It came a day after the campaign of Republican front-runnerÂ Mitt RomneyÂ said the former Massachusetts governor andÂ GOPÂ front-runner had raised $56 million for the primary through Dec. 31, including $24 million during the final three months of 2011.
Yet, even with the current money advantage overÂ Mr. RomneyÂ and the rest of theÂ GOPÂ field,Â Democrats say they are fighting to remain competitive with RepublicansÂ because of the dominance of outside groups.
GOP-supportive super-PACs have raised tens of millions of dollars this primary season, notably the Romney-leaning Restore Our Future, as well as American Crossroads, which has said it plans to raise more than $200 million this election cycle. American Crossroads has ties to Karl Rove, a top party strategist and former adviser to President George W. Bush.
â€œWe face some daunting odds â€¦ to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars,â€ said Vice President Joseph R. Biden, in a primary night address to New Hampshire Democrats. â€œThese guys have these super-PACs now on the Republican side that will spend hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads.â€
Republicans counter thatÂ Mr. ObamaÂ is more concerned with his re-election campaign than with his job of running the country, pointing to his fundraising edge on theÂ GOPÂ field. Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said that â€œthe White House may try to pretend the president isnâ€™t focused on his re-election, but Americans know heâ€™s more interested in campaigning to save his own job than creating jobs for our countryâ€™s unemployed.â€
With the prospect of a deluge of money opposing the president,Â Mr. Obamaâ€™s campaign team has tried to bat away suggestions that it will raise more than $1 billion, a substantial boost from the record $750 million it raised in 2008.
â€œThe billion-dollar number is completely untrue,â€Â Mr. MessinaÂ said.
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