Conservative groups aim to raise $120M for 2012 campaigns

Two outside conservative fundraising groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, announced Tuesday they aim to raise $120 million through the end of 2012, when President Obama is up for reelection.

Both groups were created last year with the help of former top Bush White House aide Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie. The groups raised $71 million for the 2010 cycle, which helped propel Republicans into the majority in the House and gain six seats in the Senate.

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In addition to taking the the White House, Republicans are looking to obtain a majority of seats in the Senate and solidify their hold on the House and both Crossroads groups could play a major role in achieving those goals.

Crossroads GPS director Steven Law told The Hill on Monday that his group planned to raise a substantial amount.

"2012 is shaping up to be the most expensive and hard-fought year in our history," Law said. "You've got the White House, control of Congress and the balance of power on the Supreme Court all at stake."

Crossroads framed their goal as an effort to outspend outside liberal groups, who have aimed to step up their fundraising efforts in the wake of increased spending by outside conservative organizations in 2010.

"These resources will fund advocacy efforts to compete with the torrent of outside money from unions and left-leaning groups," the Tuesday announcement reads. "Unions spent more than $400 million electing Barack Obama and Democrats in the 2008 elections and we expect that total to be significantly higher in 2012."

"You can’t outspend the unions – but you can outcompete them with a faster and leaner organization that offers more bang for the buck. That is what the Crossroads groups plan to do in 2012."

With regard to the 2012 race, American Crossroads, the 527 group, announced it is creating a new "Presidential Action Fund," that will took to shape messaging through conducting "in-depth issue research, polling, microtargeting, issue advocacy and turnout activities." American Crossroads also announced it spent 96 percent of its funds on advocacy activities and only 4 percent on overhead, according to its 2010 operating costs.

Crossroads came under fire from Democrats and nonpartisan watchdog groups last year for spending millions while declining to disclose the names of their donors. Crossroads has said that it follows all campaign finance laws that pertain to them.

In response, Democratic activist David Brock launched new liberal group akin to Crossroads -- American Bridge -- that seeks to be a counterweight to groups like Crossroads. 

Brock told the New York Times last November he had already secured $4 million in donation commitments.

-- Shane D'Aprile contributed.

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