U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election campaign and Democratic groups affiliated with it raised USD 43.6 million in April, a decrease from the previous month despite the start of a robust general election campaign against Republican Mitt Romney.
Ninety-eight percent of the donations were less than USD 250 in April and the average donation came in at USD 50.23, campaign manager Jim Messina said in a video released on Twitter.
Though big donations are critical, the campaign highlights its low-dollar donations to illustrate the kind of grassroots support it hopes will push the president to victory in November.
More than 437,000 people donated last month and 169,500 were first-time donors, Messina said. Nearly 2 million people had donated to help Obama's re-election as of this week.
Obama's campaign and its affiliates raised more than USD 53 million in March.
The drop in April money raising came even as Obama's opponent for the November 6 election became clear.
Republican Rick Santorum dropped out of the race for his party's nomination on April 10, clearing the way for Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, to take on the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee.
Obama's campaign, which had long expected Romney to be the president's opponent, switched quickly into general election mode, but that does not appear to have motivated supporters to increase their giving compared to the previous month.
A campaign official noted that fundraising at the end of the quarter is typically higher than it is at the beginning.
Despite expectations that the campaign will match or exceed the roughly USD 750 million Obama raised in the 2008 election cycle, his advisers have been concerned for months about the effect of money raised by Super PACS and other outside groups to influence the race.
In an effort to encourage donors to pony up with more cash, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina spelled out in a video released on Wednesday the amounts of money being spent to defeat the president. He noted those amounts before revealing the campaign's April fundraising haul.
Some USD 57 million had been invested in negative advertising against Obama since October, he said.
"One of the most important things we can do is get our arms around the fact: this election is going to be close, given the historic challenges the nation faced when the president first came into office," Messina said.
"Oil company executives and other special interests are dumping millions of dollars in Super PAC attack ads."
Aside from two recent political rallies, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related events over the last several months raising cash. Republicans have chided the president for spending time fundraising, and seemed to relish in the April decline.
"Barack Obama is still the Fundraiser-In-Chief but even he is struggling to sell the American people on his brand of Hype and Blame that has left millions without jobs, a struggling housing situation and record deficits and debt for future generations," said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.
The month of May could be on track for a fundraising increase.
Obama said last week he believed same-sex couples should be able to wed. Following that announcement, he held a fundraiser in Los Angeles at the home of actor George Clooney that raised nearly USD 15 million. An uptick in fundraising from invigorated members of the president's political base would not be reflected in the April figures.
The April fundraising figures include money that went directly to the Obama campaign as well as the Democratic National Committee and other joint fundraising committees.
Messina said the campaign had opened new field offices across the country and hired more staff in anticipation of a close race.
Going through the campaign's various strategies to reach the 270 state electoral votes needed to win the election, Messina said the campaign had hired 12 new staff members in Colorado - an important swing state - and new offices in New Mexico and Nevada. He said the campaign was building a "massive operation" in Florida, opening five new field offices there last month.
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