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Reporting from Florence, S.C. — After arguing in Monday night’s GOP debate that he would like to see super PACs “disappear,” Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney defended the fact that he has raised money for the independent committee supporting his campaign – stating that he was simply operating within the bounds of current law and doing what was necessary to compete in the presidential race.
“It’s not that I don’t support super PACs,” Romney told reporters Tuesday when asked how he squared appearing at fundraisers for the committee, Restore Our Future, with his distaste for the outsized role that the groups have played in the 2012 cycle. “We raise money for super PACs. We encourage super PACs. Each candidate has done that.”
“Like the others,” he said, “I also encouraged the creation of a super PAC, and following the guidelines laid out by the Supreme Court, encouraged people to make contributions to the super PAC.” But he noted that his campaign had carefully followed the law by halting all communications with the leaders of the super PAC within the required time period.
As in Monday night’s debate in Myrtle Beach, Romney emphasized that he wished campaign finance laws were different and that candidates could just raise money for their own campaigns –- without the complicating factor of outside groups raising unlimited sums of money –- but said he was operating within the system and noted that super PACs supporting President Obama had begun attacking him even though the Republican nominating contest is ongoing.
“I think the whole idea of these PACs becoming larger than the campaigns themselves is a very bad idea,” he said. “I just don’t like the way the law is, but we certainly follow the law as it exists to make sure that we’re not at a disadvantage in getting our message out.”
Romney said he had not seen the super PAC ad released by Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, which makes a mockery of the loose rules guiding super PACs by referring to the former Massachusetts Governor as a “serial killer.”
“Stephen Colbert is entitled to be a humorist and hopefully it’s funny,” Romney said. “Having not seen it I don’t know whether I think it’s funny or not but we’ll see,” he said.
But he revealed that he has been watching Saturday Night Live skits on the 2012 campaign and thought they had been “very funny.” Colbert, Romney said, “has a tradition of being able to touch my funny bone so we’ll see if he’ll be able to accomplish that again.”