WASHINGTON -- Republican donors rallied to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in May. Scores of his allies wrote five-figure checks to fuel his joint fundraising with the Republican Party, and hundreds more contributed for the first time, newly filed campaign-finance reports show.
Their support helped the former Massachusetts governor surge past President Obama's fundraising totals for the first time last month, as donors rushed to unite behind the party's presumptive nominee.
More than 1,100 individuals who had donated to Romney's rivals in the battle for the GOP nomination contributed to his main campaign account last month, a USA TODAY analysis shows. The biggest share came from individuals who had backed the failed campaign of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, long a fundraising powerhouse in Republican politics.
In addition, more than 40% of the nearly $5 million raised by a pro-Romney super PAC came from first-time donors - more than a dozen of whom gave at least $50,000 each.
The Restore Our Future super PAC, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts, launched a $7.6 million advertising campaign in nine battleground states this week, attacking the president's economic record.
Romney, who survived a bruising and expensive primary fight, must sustain his pace to compete with Obama, who shattered political money records in 2008. Romney and his fundraising team, led by private-equity manager Spencer Zwick, have proved skilled at recruiting fundraisers - known as "bundlers" for their ability to bundle together contributions from relatives, friends and associates.
Romney will court and reward those bundlers this weekend at the exclusive Deer Valley resort in Utah, where they will have the chance to mingle with him, his top campaign aides and some of the party's biggest names.
"Overall, the fundraising leadership has been as well run and organized as I have seen," said Lewis Eisenberg, who chaired Sen. John McCain's presidential fundraising in 2008 and backs Romney. "The results of last month's fundraising tell the story."
Las Vegas businessman Bill Brady is among the new donors. He wrote his first check to Restore Our Future last month, donating $100,000 and gave $33,300 to Romney and the Republican National Committee in May, records show.
Brady, whose family owns companies that distribute janitorial cleaning supplies and hotel linens, said Obama's calls to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers has caused so much uncertainty that he's unwilling to make new business investments.
"We don't know where President Obama is going," he said. "But I have great confidence that the business community will be understood by President Romney."
Brady is among the mega-donors descending on Park City, Utah, this weekend, where donors who have contributed at least $50,000 each and the fundraisers who have collected at least $250,000 will be feted. The two-day gathering includes a cookout with Romney - along with an array of policy and strategy briefings.
Attendees include McCain and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, along with two former secretaries of State, Condoleezza Rice and James Baker. Potential Romney running mates, including Tim Pawlenty and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, also are slated to appear.
Rewarding top-flight donors with exclusive access is standard practice in presidential campaigns. McCain mingled with fundraisers in Aspen and at his ranch in Sedona, Ariz., during the 2008 campaign. President George W. Bush entertained fundraisers at his Texas ranch.
"This event will give Gov. Romney and the leaders of our party a chance to meet, or become reacquainted, with major donors and will leave them feeling good and motivated to go out and continue raising the money needed for victory," Eisenberg said.