(Scott Olson/Getty Images )
Reporting from Washington —
Likely fundraising front-runner Mitt Romney got an additional boost Tuesday when an outside group formed to support his campaign reported a $12-million haul for the first half of the year.
Restore Our Future, a "super PAC" that can collect unlimited donations, was formed by several former Romney aides last year.
"There is tremendous support across the country for Mitt Romney," the group's treasurer, Charlie Spies, said in a news release. "Americans are coming out in support of Gov. Romney because they are confident he has the experience to turn our economy around."
Romney's campaign has not yet released fundraising numbers for the latest financial quarter — the first since the launch of his run — but he is expected to rake in around $20 million, well beyond his Republican competitors.
Super PACs have already made their mark as a political force this election cycle. Crossroads GPS, a conservative group founded by Karl Rove and other well-known Republicans, launched a $20-million ad blitz last week blasting President Obama's economic policies. Democratic group Priorities USA responded with a $700,000 counteroffensive; it also dinged Romney on healthcare in ads that ran in South Carolina in May.
"[Obama supporters] have already established a super PAC which made history by launching a presidential campaign with an attack ad against Gov. Romney," said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign. "We are pleased that independent groups will be active in fighting this entrenched power so the country can get back to work."
The campaign cannot coordinate with the outside group, but a decision by the Federal Election Commission last week would allow Romney to send fundraising appeals and attend the group's events, so long as he does not solicit contributions that exceed $5,000.
The Obama campaign has no plans take advantage of last week’s ruling; campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said "Neither the President nor his campaign staff or aides will fundraise for super PACs."
Romney's campaign did not comment as to whether he intended to fundraise for Restore Our Future, referring any inquiries to the independent group.
Brittany Gross, a spokeswoman for Restore Our Future, declined to comment on the group's future fundraising efforts or ad buys.