|A cutout of U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and another of Mitt Romney (right). AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad/REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Barack Obama's fundraising advantage heading into November's election may be hogwash, according to recent figures.
It seems GOP nominee Mitt Romney, whose personal wealth is estimated at $250 million, can also raise a lot of dough too, and bested Obama and the Democrats in May by nearly $17 million.
Romney's campaign announced Thursday they jointly raised $76.8 million with the Republican National Committee compared to $60 million raised by Obama and the Democrats.
And in April, Romney nearly matched Obama and raised $40 million to the president's $44 million.
This week alone, the Romney campaign said they raised $15 million during a swing through Texas, while Obama raised about $10 million during two days of fundraising in New York and California.
Spencer Zwick, Romney's national finance chairman, said in a statement Thursday the campaign was "encouraged" by the numbers.
"It is clear that people aren't willing to buy into 'hope and change' again," Zwick said. "Voters are making an investment because they believe that it will benefit the country."
But the Obama campaign said Thursday they are not surprised Romney raised more in May, given it was the first month when Romney was no longer fundraising for the GOP primary and could go back to his big donors for more cash for his presidential campaign coffers.
"All the primary donors who had written the maximum contribution during the primary can now go back and make the same contribution for the general election," Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told reporters on a conference call. "So we anticipated that they would beat us this month. We're focused on building up our donor base."
And Obama's re-election campaign through April raised more than twice what the Romney camp hauled in -- $222 million to $100 million.
Also, since both candidates have opted out of the public financing option, which provides some campaign money but also severely restricts individual donation limits, the recent fundraising figures suggest both camps will raise exorbitant sums over the next five months.
This is, in fact, the first presidential election since 1972 when neither candidate has used public finances for their campaigns, allowing them to raise far more than they could if they were using public funds as part of their campaigns.