WASHINGTON -- Top officials with President Obama's campaign warned in stark terms on Wednesday that they will be outspent by their Republican counterparts during the course of the 2012 election.
Speaking on background to a gathering of Washington, D.C.-based reporters, these officials predicted a $1 billion combined anti-Obama effort from Republican super PACs, nonprofit entities and the Romney campaign itself. The presumptive Republican nominee alone, they predicted, would raise more than $100 million in June -- a sum that would be both historic and demoralizing to Democrats, who went into the 2012 election expecting the president to retain his 2008 fundraising advantages.
"Anxiously," is the adverb one top campaign official used to describe how the re-election team will handle the wave of spending.
"Citizens United has ushered in a very different era in politics, the possibility of the spending advantage we might have had has been erased," added another top official.
"I think Romney is going to have big months," said a third, emphasizing the plurality in his statement. "We are going to be outspent, that is clear."
The comments carried a strong sense of foreboding with respect to the money wars. But they also disclosed sly expectations-setting as well. Mitt Romney's allied super PAC, Restore our Future, raised $5 million in May, a large sum, to be sure, but not as large as expected. Romney, meanwhile, must split some of the money he raises with a Joint Victory Committee, which, in turn, sends cash to non-presidential campaign entities, such as state parties. And while he has had hugely successfully fundraising swings in June -- including a $15 million weekend in Texas -- getting to $100 million remains a major feat.
"President Obama said if he didn't turn the economy around in 3 years, he'd be looking at a one-term proposition, and, now, he's asking for 4 more years," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an emailed response. "President Obama's team also said they'd raise $1 billion. The Obama campaign is used to moving the goal posts."
That said, if past is prologue, the Obama campaign is in for a long several months. According to campaign officials, Republican super PACs spent $29 million on ads that had an anti-Obama message during the 2011 portion of the GOP primary. So far, in the general election, Democrats have been outspent by Republicans three-to-one on the presidential race. During the last 10 days of June alone, they said, Romney and allied super PACs spent $20 million compared to the $12 million spent by the president.
"It is a harbinger of what's to come. That's something that worries us," said one top campaign official.
"It is a source of concern. There is no point in being cute about it. I think we have certain advantages that will allow us to overcome that: the president is a well-known person in this country, he has got a big following, we have got a big organization. And while we don't have $10 million donors we do have millions of donors giving an average of $51 a piece. We will chip away at it."
Campaigns won't be the only entities pouring money into the elections this year. Below, a list of super PAC donors seeking to make a mark on November outcomes:
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