By STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Chasing President Barack Obama's cash advantage, Republican challenger Mitt Romney expects to raise $10 million during a three-day fundraising swing through the New York area that included a video meeting with donors in China.
Romney's top finance aide told donors in New York City on Monday that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was set to raise at least that — and "potentially substantially more" — during more than a dozen events.
Romney also planned a July fundraiser with former Vice President Dick Cheney in Wyoming, according to a "Save the Date" invitation to the event.
"We've had a successful swing here in New York," Romney's national finance chairman Spencer Zwick told roughly 250 donors who paid $2,500 each to attend a luncheon Monday at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Park Avenue. "We will raise more than $10 million, potentially substantially more than that."
Romney's fundraising has skyrocketed since he became his party's presumptive nominee and started raising money with the Republican National Committee. With the party, Romney raised $40.1 million in April. That's nearly as much as the $43.6 million that President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party raised together last month.
While the president still enjoys a substantial fundraising edge, Romney's sudden rise shifts the balance of power in a presidential contest that may be the most expensive election in U.S. history.
Zwick noted that Romney nearly matched the incumbent president's April haul, while prominent Romney donor, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, said the new numbers were cause for optimism.
"We were expecting Obama to bury us 3-to-1, 4-to-1, 10-to-1, I don't know. But we're not being buried," Johnson said. "We have to win with ideas. And we've got to win with cash."
In just one month, Obama's 10-to-1 cash advantage has shrunk to 2-to-1, partly because the RNC now is helping Romney. By himself, Romney raised just $12.5 million in March. He may match that total in just three days.
The recent financial success includes outreach to American citizens living or working abroad.
After meeting donors in Connecticut on Sunday night, Romney hosted a private videoconference via Skype with donors in Hong Kong and Singapore. Non-citizens are barred from contributing money to American elections, but Americans living or working abroad, in addition to green card holders, may donate.
While Romney regularly targets China on the campaign trail, aides said all the participants were Americans.
The Republican campaign is also trying to entice donors with a "team-building" trip to Utah next month.
Johnson said eligible donors would have to reach "a certain level, which isn't that hard to reach." Fundraising documents distributed outside the luncheon showed that each donor must raise $250,000 to qualify for the trip to Park City, Utah.
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