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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. And we begin this hour with a few numbers, and the story they tell us about the presidential race so far. I'm talking about the latest fundraising totals from the campaigns of President Obama, former Massachusetts Governor Romney, and the superPACs that love them. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, the president's money machine is already well-oiled, and Romney is looking to big donors to make up the difference.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: The easy numbers first - $53 million raised in March to re-elect Obama, and $12.6 million raised by the Romney campaign to win the Republican primaries. But those easy numbers don't give a complete picture. For one thing, the Obama number is the total for a rather complex campaign structure: the president's campaign committee; the Democratic National Committee; and something called the Swing State Victory Fund, which sends money to state Democratic parties in the dozen or so battlegrounds.

The legal limit for anyone giving to the Obama campaign committee is $5,000. The limit for all those entities is nearly 76,000. Romney is building a similar structure, now that he's finishing up the GOP primary season. He's also just starting to solicit his primary donors to give again. So that's one reason the fundraising numbers are about to shoot skyward. Another reason? The superPACs, with their ability to raise unlimited contributions.

The pro-Republican Crossroads organization, co-founded by strategist Karl Rove, says it's raised just under $100 million since January 2011. Only some of that is disclosed. American Crossroads, the superPAC, files monthly reports. Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) advocacy group, isn't required to. There's also a superPAC supporting Romney, which raised $50 million to carpet-bomb the other primary candidates. But its report today shows its cash on hand at a relatively small $6.5 million.

The Obama team has a superPAC, too, but it's best known for its paltry fundraising. President Obama started encouraging his supporters to help the superPAC, and its filing tonight will show how well that's working. The filing deadline is midnight. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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