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Published: Monday, 5/21/2012

Donors to rivals of Romney shun changing course

More conservative givers stay away, finance data show


WASHINGTON — Republican Mitt Romney and his party raised a sizable $40 million last month, but even as Mr. Romney solidifies his position as the eventual GOP nominee, many supporters who backed his primary challengers have not yet come to his aid.

An Associated Press review of campaign finance data found that only a few hundred donors who contributed to candidates such as Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum have changed course and given to Mr. Romney’s campaign or the Republican Party in April.

GOP stalwarts and some former rivals have called on supporters to rally around Mr. Romney’s White House run.

The former Massachusetts governor is hardly hurting for cash, having reported more than $61 million in the bank by the end of April.

But financial reports released Sunday reveal a potential struggle for Mr. Romney in persuading his party’s more conservative donors to open their wallets for him.

Election Day is more than five months away.

Out of more than 50,000 donors who gave to other GOP candidates such as Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry since the start of the nomination race, fewer than 600 appeared to write checks to Mr. Romney in April, an AP review of Federal Election Commission reports found.

Roughly the same number contributed to the Republican National Committee, which is now helping Mr. Romney’s campaign.

Mr. Romney has been courting conservatives, speaking out recently against China’s “one-child policy” and addressing graduates at the evangelical Liberty University. Last month Mr. Romney told the Web site Breitbart.com that the media were involved in a “vast left-wing conspiracy to work together to put out their message and to attack me.”

Wealthy donors such as former Santorum supporter Foster Friess are now supporting Mr. Romney, realizing that his sizable delegate count and financial strength all but guarantee his nomination this summer.

Other conservatives, however, have been wary.

April’s financial reports, due to the FEC by midnight Sunday, showed that Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party brought in a combined $43.6 million last month.

Mr. Obama’s campaign has had to raise funds aggressively to answer ads from conservative “super” political committees.

Mr. Romney’s fund-raising bounty doesn’t include the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into GOP super PACs. On Sunday, the Romney-supportive Restore Our Future said it raised $4.6 million last month, leaving the group with $8.2 million cash on hand. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash but can’t coordinate with the candidates they support.

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