Friday, June 1, 2012

The Billion-Dollar Mitt Machine

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By Tim Dickinson

In my latest Rolling Stone piece I profile the 16 mega-rich donors who've ponied up at least $1 million each for the SuperPAC backing Mitt Romney. But even those giant checks may soon look like chump change, according to a new report in Politico.

Led by the billionaire Koch Brothers, forces allied with the GOP are now planning to spend a record-shattering $1 billion to put Romney in the White House.

The biggest news is that the Kochtopus— the shadowy network of political advocacy groups funded by industrialists Charles and David Koch — is alone planning to spend $395 million to defeat Obama. Take a second to let that sink in with the help of a tweet from former George W. Bush consultant Mark McKinnon this morning:
"Think the $$ political system is screwed up? Koch brothers alone are planning to spend more $$ than McCain's entire 2008 presidential budget."
The Koch money — twice what the billionaire brothers had previously committed — will dwarf even the $300 million the American Crossroads network controlled by ex-Bushies Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie expects to spend.

The Romney-linked SuperPAC, Restore our Future, which raised $50 million for the primary says it now expects to spend another $100 million before election day.

Other megadollar players backing Mitt, according to Politico?

• U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $100 million
• YG Network (Eric Cantor's SuperPAC): $30 million
• American Action Network (led by former GOP Senator Norm Coleman): $30 million
• Freedom Works (Dick Armey's group that helped launch the Tea Party): $30 million

The spending seems sure to outpace the money raised by President Obama's SuperPAC — which hopes to raise just $100 million — and Big Labor, whose budget may be as small as $200 million.
The Big Money gap puts tremendous pressure on the Obama campaign to maximize returns from its vast network of small-dollar donors. And it makes even more pivotal the president's most powerful weapon, the intricate network of on-the-ground volunteer organizers the campaign has built out in the electoral battleground.

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