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Friday, June 8, 2012 - Page updated at 10:00 p.m.

Romney campaign exceeds Obama's in May fundraising

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR
The New York Times

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign reached a significant milestone in May, surpassing President Obama's fundraising efforts for the first time, with $76.8 million raised.

The Republican success suggests Romney is the beneficiary of the usual cash rush from donors who are eager to back the presumptive nominee now that the party has united behind him. The amount raised for Romney and his party was nearly double what they collected in April, and it was disclosed just hours after Obama's campaign said Thursday that its joint fundraising operation with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had raised $60 million.

The fundraising announcements came on a day of dueling speeches from Romney and Obama.

Campaigning in St. Louis, Romney accused the president of not believing in, or understanding, America's free-enterprise system.

"There is something fundamentally wrong when there are over 23 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, or have stopped looking for work, and yet the president tells us he's doing a great job," Romney said. "I will not be that president of deception and doubt."

Obama told students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, that Congress was holding up the economic recovery by blocking bills like one to keep student loans affordable.

"They haven't acted fast enough," Obama said of the lawmakers. "We can't afford to have Congress take five months off." He added that Congress should act quickly, saying: "Get it done. This is not complicated. Making college affordable; that's one of the best things we can do for the economy."

The surge in fundraising for Romney in May came as he clinched the delegates necessary to become the Republican nominee, a green light for Republican donors who might have been on the sidelines throughout the primary process. It also paved the way for the Republican National Committee (RNC) to link its operations and fundraising efforts with the Romney campaign.

A statement from Romney's campaign said the Republican campaign ended May with $107 million in cash.

"It is clear that people aren't willing to buy into 'hope and change' again," said Spencer Zwick, Romney's national finance chairman. "Voters are making an investment because they believe that it will benefit the country."

By contrast, Obama has been raising money from his donor base for the better part of a year. That means his most enthusiastic donors have probably already given as much as the law allows.

Aides to Obama said they were not especially worried because they had expected Romney to have a good fundraising month. An email from Jim Messina, the campaign manager, to supporters, had the subject line: "We got beat."

Obama's campaign announced his total on Twitter, saying that the average donation was just over $50. The $60 million fundraising total includes money raised directly by his campaign and by the Democratic National Committee.

"The campaign raised more than $60 million across committees in May," the president said. "Thanks to everyone who chipped in."

Obama and Romney were nearly neck-and-neck in fundraising in April, with $43.6 and $40.1 million respectively, but Romney and the RNC's month-to-month increase of $36.7 million more than doubled that of the president and the DNC.

Obama's May total was boosted by a fundraiser hosted by actor George Clooney that brought in as much as $15 million from attendees and online donors hoping to win a spot on the guest list.

Also

Harvey Whittemore, a former developer and lobbyist with ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Nevada's political elite, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Reno to federal charges involving campaign contributions. Whittemore, 59, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday on four counts related to campaign contributions made in 2007 to an unnamed elected federal official.

Whittemore made campaign contributions to numerous politicians, including Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley. Records show only Reid, a Democrat, received donations of more than $100,000 on a single day in 2007.

Material from McClatchy Newspapers and The Associated Press is included in this report.

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