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Romney Builds Cash Edge Over Obama as Conventions Near

Presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his Republican allies entered August, and the final weeks before the national conventions, with more money to spend than President Barack Obama and the Democrats.

Romney, the Republican National Committee and two allied super-political action committees reported a combined bank account balance of $169 million on July 31. That compared with $107 million for the president, the Democratic National Committee and the pro-Obama Priorities USA Action. The figures are based on disclosures filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission.

Standing alone, the president’s campaign committee raised more money than Romney’s last month and had more cash on hand.

“Romney’s money is going to be unleashed as soon as he becomes the nominee,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a professor of communication at Boston University. “What this is going to do is give Romney the ability to spend massive amounts of money on advertising and field operations. This is going to quickly level the playing field between the two campaigns.”

In the last tally of campaign cash before the national party conventions, Obama brought in $49.2 million to $40.3 million for Romney in July. The Republican National Committee overcame that deficit by itself, raising $37.9 million, while its Democratic counterpart reported $10 million in receipts.

Cash Advantage

Likewise, the Republican committee’s cash-on-hand advantage of $88.8 million to $15.4 million for the Democratic National Committee more than overcame Obama’s edge over Romney. The Obama campaign committee reported $87.7 million in its bank account entering August compared with $30.2 million for Romney.

Super-PACs padded Romney’s financial advantage. Restore Our Future, which raised $7.5 million last month, reported $20.5 million in the bank, and American Crossroads, founded with the help of former President George W. Bush’s chief political adviser Karl Rove, brought in $7.1 million and had $29.5 million left to spend. Priorities USA Action, founded by former Obama aides, brought in $4.8 million and had a bank balance of $4.2 million.

Priorities USA Action raised a total of $25.5 million for the campaign, less than one-third the $89.7 million that Restore Our Future took in.

The Republican convention begins Aug. 27 in Tampa, Florida, and the Democratic convention is the following week in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fundraising Sprint

In advance of his nomination, Romney is crisscrossing the country for one final fundraising sprint. A dinner reception last night in Metairie, Louisiana, a wealthy suburb of New Orleans, cost $50,000 per person and was hosted by Senator David Vitter, Governor Bobby Jindal and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. Romney was in Houston today to raise money from the oil industry.

A senior Romney aide speaking on condition of anonymity said Romney will focus more on public events after the convention and do less fundraising, putting pressure on the campaign to raise as much as possible this month.

So far, Obama’s campaign committee has brought in about twice as much as Romney, $356.5 million to $197 million.

Contributors to Obama’s campaign last month included employees of the auditing and consulting firm Deloitte LLP, who gave $190,359, and Google Inc. employees who contributed $60,634, according to a Bloomberg News computer-assisted analysis of FEC data.

Google Contributes

Employees of Mountain View, California-based Google and their families are among the top five sources of contributions to Obama’s presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks donations.

The Romney campaign continued to rely heavily on financial industry donations, the computer analysis showed. He received $114,200 last month from employees of New York-based MetLife Inc., $47,470 from Bank of America Corp. employees and $35,249 from employees of New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which has been his largest source of campaign contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Charlotte-based Bank of America’s name is on the stadium where Obama will deliver his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention Sept. 6.

Obama Spending

Obama spent $59 million in July, about $10 million more than he took in during the month. Much of that money went for television ads. Between July 15 and Aug. 13, Obama spent an estimated $23.6 million on 63,735 commercials, according to Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks television advertising. Romney spent an estimated $10.9 million on 27,179 spots during the same period. In all, the former Massachusetts governor spent $32.7 million on his campaign last month.

Since the start of the presidential campaign last year, Obama has outspent Romney $270.6 million to $166.8 million.

“You perhaps noticed in the paper, we’re a little wiser in our spending of dollars than the other side apparently,” Romney told about 100 donors at the Houston fundraiser. “We’re going to spend our money wisely. We’re going to spend it to win.”

Restore Our Future received another $2 million from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, bringing his total donations to $8 million. New York-based Renco Group Inc., whose subsidiaries include Humvee manufacturer AM General LLC, gave $1 million.

Muneer Satter, who in June announced his retirement as a partner at Goldman Sachs, gave $120,000. Satter has served as a co-chairman of Romney’s national finance committee.

American Crossroads received a total of $2 million from Texas businessman Robert Rowling and his Irving-based company, TRT Holdings Inc. Robert Mercer, co-chief executive officer of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies LLC in East Setauket, New York, gave $1 million; Mercer was the primary funder of another pro-Republican super-PAC, Concerned Taxpayers of America, in 2010, and donated $1 million to Restore Our Future in 2011.

Priorities USA Action received $1 million from Philadelphia real estate developer Mel Heifetz and $750,000 from New York architect Jon Stryker.

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