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Super PAC appeal, give until it 'feels good'

Pro-Obama super PAC raises $10 million

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Super PAC fundraiser Paul Begala climbed atop a table and told a roomful of VIP donors that “giving until it hurts” isn’t good enough.

“I want you to give until it feels good,” he said, because it will “really hurt” to wake up Nov. 7 with Republican Mitt Romney on his way to the White House.

The high-profile Democratic operative was addressing donors at a cocktail party in downtown Charlotte Tuesday, just blocks from the convention hall where Democrats unveiled a platform that condemns big-money politics.

If elected, Romney and his fellow Republicans will “repeal the 20th century,” Begala told the room.

Begala was one of President Bill Clinton’s chief strategists and is now a top adviser to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC that is seeking to re-elect President Barack Obama.

Created in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010, super PACs can accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and unions to be used to pay for political ads.

Democrats, who are being badly outraised by Republicans in the super PAC race, have criticized them, including Begala.

“I want to live in an America without super PACs,” Begala said, shortly before announcing that Priorities USA Action had raised a record $10 million during the month of August.

Democrats have defended their reluctant embrace of the political organizations, saying if they don’t create their own it will amount to unilateral disarmament.

“If [former Soviet leader Nikita] Khrushchev has nuclear weapons, I want President [John F.] Kennedy to have them too,” Begala said.

Priorities, combined with two other Democratic super PACs have raised about $60 million — “brunch” for billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Begala joked.

Adelson and family have given more than $42 million to super PACs in the 2012 election aimed at defeating Democrats so far, according to research by the Center for Public Integrity

Priorities was created in 2011 by former White House aides Sean Sweeney and Bill Burton.

Democratic super PACs and nonprofits have been outraised by their Republican counterparts, Begala said.

He said that billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch may spend as much as $200 million to influence the outcomes of the 2012 elections. American Crossroads and its sister 501(c)(4) nonprofit Crossroads GPS, both dedicated to supporting Republicans, have a fundraising goal of $300 million.

Begala said Democrats can “survive if we’re outspent” but not if it’s by a margin of 16-1, which is what happened to Romney’s rivals in the GOP primary races.

The party was the first of the convention hosted by “Unity Convention 2012” — a joint fundraising committee that benefits Priorities USA Action and two other Democratic super PACS: Majority PAC, which is working to help the party retain control of the U.S. Senate and House Majority PAC, which aims to help Democrats regain control of Congress’ lower chamber.

Today, Democratic super PAC donors will gather at the home of hedge-fund billionaire James Simons, as Politico previously reported.  On Thursday Unity Convention 2012 will throw a late-night celebration with Jessica Alba, rapper Pitbull and the Scissor Sisters called “Super-O-Rama” at the North Carolina Music Factory, following Obama’s acceptance speech.