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Why aren't more conservatives donating to Mitt Romney?

Mitt Romney raised $40 million last month. But an analysis of Romney's fundraising shows that many wealthy conservatives, who backed rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, aren't donating to Romney's campaign.

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Wealthy donors like former Santorum supporter Foster Friess are now supporting Romney, realizing that his sizable delegate count and financial strength all but guarantee his nomination this summer. Other eventual Romney donors had already given early to his rivals, partly to support a spirited debate during the primary season.

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Willis J. Johnson, founder of auto dealer Copart USA, contributed to Perry and Gingrich last year because he personally liked Perry and admired Gingrich's insistence on quizzing Romney during debates. "I think this administration is trying to take money away from small businesses," Johnson said, in part through tax hikes.

Other conservatives, however, have been warier. One blog post last week on the conservative RedState.com, referring to Romney's Liberty speech, asked: "Mr. Romney said that marriage is between one man and one woman. He got deafening applause. But where was he when it mattered?"

About a quarter of Romney April-turnaround donors gave checks of $2,500 or more, including amounts up to the maximum $30,800 legally allowed to a political party. In March — just before Romney started raising general election cash — about 300 former Santorum and Gingrich supporters contributed to the former Massachusetts governor's campaign.

Santorum dropped out of the race in April and Gingrich in May, even though Romney's momentum was growing before then. A report detailing the contributions of Romney's joint-fundraising committee is due out this summer.

A Romney spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment late Sunday.

The AP analyzed federal contributions since January 2011, cross-matching donors' names and addresses with those on Romney's or the GOP's April reports. Those filings, per federal election requirements, exclude donors who gave fewer than $200 per candidate each election — although most of Romney's campaign contributions ($8.9 million) came from donors who gave $200 or more.

April's financial reports, due to the FEC by midnight Sunday, showed that Obama and the Democratic Party brought in a combined $43.6 million last month. Obama's campaign has had to raise funds aggressively to answer ads from conservative "super" political committees.

Indeed, Romney's fundraising bounty doesn't include the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into GOP super PACs. On Sunday, the Romney-supportive Restore Our Future said it raised $4.6 million last month, leaving the group with $8.2 million cash on hand.

Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash but can't coordinate with the candidates they support. GOP groups have largely outraised their Democratic counterparts, although Obama has a strong financial position that traditionally comes with being an incumbent.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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