A super-political action committee devoted to helping re-elect President Barack Obama raised more than $6 million in June, its best month yet, said Bill Burton, Priorities USA Action co-founder and former White House spokesman.
The super-PAC has taken in a total of $20 million and has another $20 million in commitments, Burton said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. Priorities expects to raise and spend $100 million by the Nov. 6 election between Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he said.
Democrats initially were reluctant to give to super-PACs, organizations that can receive unlimited donations from individuals and corporations, which emerged after a 2010 Supreme Court decision. Burton said they’re now opening their checkbooks.
“People look at the polls, and they see this is a tight race,” he said. “And I think that they’re concerned about the hundreds of millions of dollars that’s coming in from the right in this election.”
Burton said he anticipates fundraising help from some of Obama’s Cabinet members, as well as former President Bill Clinton -- though none has pitched in to date. “He has said he will be helpful,” Burton said of Clinton.
Obama, who had expressed a distaste for super-PACs, in February signaled to his supporters that contributions to Priorities would help him hold the White House.
Irwin Jacobs, the former chairman of Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), and his wife, Joan, contributed $2 million in June, Burton said. Other donors include Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc. (DWA) Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg, who gave $2 million in startup money May 2011 and comedian Bill Maher, who wrote a $1 million check in February.
Most super-PACs and the presidential candidates are due to report their June fundraising numbers to the Federal Election Commission by July 20.
Priorities has aired 5,959 television ads in five swing states in the 30-day period ended July 9, according to New York- based Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks advertising. The five states are Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, which have a total of 89 electoral votes.
All of the ads are critical of Bain Capital LLC, the Boston-based private-equity firm that Romney co-founded. Burton said the super-PAC has spent “$10 million talking about Mitt Romney’s career in business” -- an expenditure that he said has paid off.
“It’s one of the only things that’s actually moved numbers in this race,” Burton said. “You look at any public poll, any private poll, the focus groups, they all say that. What was supposed to be Mitt Romney’s biggest asset, his experience in business, has actually become one of his biggest liabilities.”
An ABC News/Washington Post poll out this month and a Wall Street Journal/NBC survey last month showed that people who live in swing states -- where the attack ads dominate the airwaves -- are more likely than the general population to view Romney’s business career negatively.
The Obama campaign is also weighing in on Romney’s tenure at Bain.
Ads by Priorities and the president’s campaign team, which by law cannot coordinate, feature laid-off workers from GST Steel, a Kansas City company that Bain took over in 1993. It went bankrupt in 2001.
Priorities and the Obama campaign also have said that Bain, during Romney’s tenure, invested in companies that shipped work to overseas call centers and factories, “offshoring” U.S. jobs.
Romney’s campaign has fired back with TV ads calling such attacks “unfair and untrue.” Romney says he left operational duties at Bain in 1999 to run the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics.
“I had no role whatsoever in managing Bain Capital after February of 1999,” Romney said in an interview yesterday with CNN. “This is all an effort on the part of the president’s campaign to divert attention from the fact that the president has been a failure when it comes to reigniting America’s economy.”
Romney’s assertions about his role at Bain after February 1999 have come under scrutiny since federal and state business filings show him listed as the sole stockholder or chief executive officer in Bain-related investments and funds as late as 2002.
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