Republican-leaning groups, by contrast, spent about $14 million on commercials in the same period. About $4.3 million was spent by Restore Our Future, which has raised at least $51 million since its inception to support Romney. The Romney campaign has spent no money on TV ads since Romney's Republican opponents dropped out, clearing his path to the nomination.
Obama's campaign opened the month of April with more than $100 million in the bank, a 10-to-1 fundraising advantage over Romney. But the president's edge is minimized by the campaign cash raised by Restore Our Future and other Republican-leaning super PACs, which have pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help Romney.
Carl Forti, who heads Restore Our Future and served as political director for Romney's 2008 presidential bid, said the group does not need to coordinate with the Romney campaign to know how to make the best use of resources.
"We're politically experienced people, we know what Obama's vulnerabilities are and what we need to do to help Mitt win," Forti said. "Just because we can anticipate what they need and where they are going, it doesn't mean it's coordinated."
Forti also serves as a strategist for American Crossroads, a super PAC with ties to Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's longtime political director. Crossroads has announced plans to spend as much as $300 million to influence the presidential contest.
While the Republican groups may not coordinate directly with the Romney campaign, they do coordinate with each other. Leaders of some leading Republican super PACs attend a monthly meeting hosted by Crossroads to share information and devise strategy.
Paul Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy group, said super PACs are operating under a fig leaf of independence that does not hold up under scrutiny.
"Super PACs have little or no true independence, that's why large contributions to super PACs pose just as great a threat of corruption as they would if given directly to the candidates," Ryan said. "To put it bluntly, there's no real need for them to coordinate as the law defines it in order to run an incredibly effective ad campaign using unlimited, potentially corrupting contributions."
The new Priorities USA Action ad is running on TV in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The Super PAC also began a website with its version of Romney's record as CEO of Bain Capital. The Obama campaigns ad is to air in Iowa instead of Florida.
Thomas reported from Washington.
Follow Beth Fouhy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bfouhy
Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.