Top Obama campaign officials today said they would be outspent by Mitt Romney and allies, especially when you include all the various outside groups.
Jason Reed / Reuters
President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Los Cabos June 19, 2012.
"We are going to be the first incumbent [president] outspent," said one of these officials at a pen-and-pad session with reporters in DC.
The ad-spending numbers for the general election show the two sides to be even right now. According to data from NBC/SMG Delta, the Obama campaign has spent nearly $61 million on advertising, versus $14 million for the Romney camp.
But when you factor in all the outside groups -- including the Super PACs (which have to disclose their donors) and 501c4s (which don't) -- Romney and his allies reach parity with Obama and his allies, $73 million to $73 million.
The same Obama campaign official predicted that Romney, the Republican National Committee, and the Romney Victory Fund would raise $100 million in June -- more than Team Obama would. In May, Team Romney outraised Team Obama, $77 million to $60 million.
When a reporter mentioned that the Obama campaign had a clear financial advantage over John McCain in 2008, another top official shot back that all of that money was transparent and disclosed, and much of it came from small donors. But this time, the official added, there are a slew of GOP-leaning 501c4 groups -- like the Karl Rove-backed Crossroads GPS and the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity -- that don't have to disclose their donors and are being funded by seven-figure and even eight-figure checks.
The purpose of this pen-and-pad meeting was for the Obama campaign to discuss the state of the race, and these officials maintained that the Obama-Romney contest was close as expected. "We've got the race we anticipated," said one official.
And what's especially striking, these officials continued, is how stable the contest has been, despite all the polls and the various ups and downs. "The reality is there hasn't been a great deal of change in the last few months," the same official added.
That said, the campaign discussed all of its different paths to 270 electoral votes, its strength with minority voters (predicting they would represent 28% of all voters, up from 26% in 2008), its appeal with female voters, and its organizational advantage over Romney.
The campaign also said it wouldn't be backing away from its attacks on Romney's business background at Bain Capital, contending that they're working and they highlight Romney's economic values.
Meanwhile, it said, the advertising attacks on Romney's record as Massachusetts governor are intended to point to his competence -- or lack thereof. "Most Americans don't know he was the governor of Massachusetts because he's trying to put that behind him," argued one official.
The campaign officials emphasized another point to the assembled reporters: Romney has yet to receive scrutiny for his policies and plans, and they hope that scrutiny comes.
In fact, they pointed to five issues -- the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan, how to pay for Romney's $5 trillion tax cut, immigration, foreign policy, and the Romney jobs plan -- where the former Massachusetts governor has been vague or unspecific.
If Romney wants to be president, one of the officials said, "he ought to answer single, direct questions about his positions... If there is one consistent quality he has shown, it is evasiveness. They don't want to be scrutinized."
And another official charged that Romney "is the most secretive presidential candidate in our lifetime," noting that he hasn't released the names of his campaign bundlers, his income tax returns (beyond one for 2010 and an estimate for 2011), or many of his records as Massachusetts governor.