By JACK GILLUM, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior campaign aides to Republican Mitt Romney will begin appearing at fundraising events for an independent political group supporting his White House run, officials said Friday. The decision comes days after President Barack Obama gave his campaign the OK to do the same.
Both moves blur the line between so-called "super" political action committees and their favored candidates. Federal rules prohibit coordination between the committees and the candidates, but that hasn't stopped Republican- and Democratic-leaning groups from blurring the line to raise money.
Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC, spent more than $15 million on ads through Florida's primary late last month either supporting Romney or attacking his rivals. That was more money than Romney's own campaign spent on ads. Such super PAC ads targeting GOP rival Newt Gingrich were largely credited for cutting into support for the former House speaker before the Iowa caucuses.
Romney's campaign confirmed the arrangement for The Associated Press on Friday.
The campaign's decision to follow Obama's lead in allowing aides to speak at super PAC fundraising events was not surprising. Romney himself spoke at a Restore Our Future event in New York last July.
This week, Obama's campaign said top administration officials would speak at events by Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting his re-election bid.
Obama has voiced support for campaign-finance reform, going so far as to chide the Supreme Court for its 2010 decision opening the doors for corporate and union spending in elections.
But, in explaining his embrace of super PACs, campaign officials said the president wouldn't "unilaterally disarm" and allow each campaign to operate under a different set of rules. Election data show Democratic-leaning groups, including the Democratic National Committee, have more cash on hand than their Republican counterparts. But Obama's team is taking few chances, particularly as billionaires are poised to spend tens of millions of dollars to support the eventual GOP nominee and to go after Obama in the fall.
"Our country is at a crossroads and the stakes could not be higher," Romney campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement. "President Obama and his allies will do whatever it takes, and spend whatever it takes, to hold on to power."
Gitcho added that Romney's campaign won't allow Obama to overtake it in fundraising.
The Romney campaign's decision was first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal.
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