Mitt Romney in the Vanguard of the New World of Super PAC Campaigning

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Mitt Romney’s success in capturing the Republican presidential nomination can be attributed in large part to his embracing the super PAC concept more effectively than his GOP rivals. Doing so also has given him a key advantage over his target for November: President Barack Obama.
About a year ago, three former Romney campaign aides started the super PAC Restore Our Future, which became a pivotal weapon during the GOP primary. Having raised $57 million as of the end of April, the super PAC financed a slew of campaign ads, many of them negative, that helped defeat other Republican contenders.
According to the Boston Globe, “No candidate in the 2012 race adapted more swiftly and effectively to the rise of the super PACs” that Romney.
With the rise of the super PAC, the 2012 presidential race “is operating on two tracks: one in which a campaign can collect no more than $5,000 per donor and is responsible for its ads, and shadow campaigns in the form of super PACs, which can receive millions of dollars from a single donor and run ads for which the candidate can claim no responsibility,” writes Michael Kranish in the Boston Globe.
Spending this election by outside groups has skyrocketed, reaching its highest in U.S. political history. concluded that “outside spending in all its forms has doubled since 2008, but independent expenditures have more than tripled.”
Romney’s embrace of the super PAC has given him one important advantage so far over Obama. While the president’s campaign has spent nearly $48 million of its own money on television ads, Romney has had to allocate only $7.8 million on TV commercials. That’s because groups like Restore Our Future have picked up most of the TV tab for Republicans to date, about 80% of it.
The rules for super PACs and other “independent groups” forbid coordination between the groups and the candidates they support. However, as interpreted by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the actual boundaries are porous. On June 28, 2011, the FEC ruled that a candidate is allowed to be the featured speaker at fundraisers for the very groups with which he is not allowed to coordinate. Just three weeks later, Romney appeared as the guest speaker at a fundraiser for Restore Our Future.
                                                                                                                                                    -Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
In a World of Super Pacs, Mitt Romney Rules (by Michael Kranish, Boston Globe)
Outside Spending: The Big Picture (So Far) (by Bob Biersack,
GOP Groups Top Democrats in TV Spending by Far (by David Espo, Associated Press)



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