Rom­ney’s prow­ess in fundrais­ing al­low­ing for su­pe­rior or­ga­ni­za­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY RALPH Z. HAL­LOW

While crit­ics and ri­vals ar­gue that Mitt Rom­ney is try­ing to buy the Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion by out­spend­ing op­po­nents many times over, the for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor’s back­ers say the cam­paign that chalked up six wins on Tues­day is do­ing ex­actly what it’s sup­posed to do — and do­ing it bet­ter than the other guys.

Rom­ney sup­port­ers say their can­di­date’s fundrais­ing suc­cess, rather than be­ing a neg­a­tive, should send a mes­sage about Mr. Rom­ney’s abil­ity to max­i­mize both tra­di­tional cam­paign do­na­tions, which are limited to $2,500 per per­son, and the tur­bocharged stream of dol­lars flow­ing into the 2012 race from su­per PACS.

And while the Su­per Tues­day wins are ev­i­dence of Mr. Rom­ney’s ad­van­tages in cam­paign or­ga­ni­za­tion, they also of­fer a glimpse of the can­di­date’s strat­egy: Use su­pe­rior cam­paign in­fra­struc­ture to build on sup­port in high-den­sity, ur­ban-sub­ur­ban ar­eas that are nor­mally Demo­cratic strongholds.

Hav­ing shown that he could turn his 59point eco­nomic blue­print into a six-word slo­gan — “More jobs, less debt and small gov­ern­ment” — and swipe Newt Gin­grich’s fo­cus on Amer­i­can en­ergy in­de­pen­dence, look for Mr. Rom­ney to com­man­deer the dis­cus­sion about the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s threat to re­li­gious lib­erty, back­ers said.

It’s an is­sue, they said, Mr. Rom­ney can ex­ploit with­out get­ting bogged down, like for­mer Sen. Rick San­to­rum, in the los­ing fight over con­tra­cep­tion.

The Rom­ney camp plans to stretch his al­ready con­sid­er­able lead over ri­vals in the re­cruit­ment of sur­ro­gates, point­ing out to skep­tics that Repub­li­cans who were con­sid­ered po­ten­tial stan­dard-bear­ers — in­clud­ing the gov­er­nors of New Jer­sey and Virginia and even real-es­tate mogul Don­ald Trump — have come over to his side.

The Rom­ney team plans to play up the en­dorse­ment of con­sti­tu­tional law at­tor­ney Jim Bopp Jr., a so­cial con­ser­va­tive and Re­pub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­ber from In­di­ana who founded the Re­pub­li­can Na­tional Con­ser­va­tive Cau­cus.

Mr. Bopp will be pre­sented as the high­achiev­ing an­ti­dote to the threat posed by Mr. San­to­rum, who is run­ning as the mag­net for blue-col­lar Rea­gan Democrats and so­cial and re­li­gious con­ser­va­tives.

Based on the GOP’S cal­en­dar of re­main­ing pri­maries and cau­cuses, the Rom­ney cam­paign is gird­ing for pos­si­ble losses in three of the com­ing eight con­tests in the next two weeks.

The prob­lem for Mr. Rom­ney is that his wins are likely to be in the small is­land ter­ri­to­ries of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Vir­gin Is­lands, as well as the small-pop­u­la­tion state of Hawaii, while the po­ten­tial losses are the big states of Alabama, Kansas and Mis­sis­sippi.

De­bates — whether to par­tic­i­pate or sit them out — is also a loom­ing ques­tion.

The gov­er­nor’s sup­port­ers say his per­for­mances in the string of Re­pub­li­can de­bates served him well — es­pe­cially in Florida, where he won the state’s Jan. 31 pri­mary. And his per­for­mance in the Ari­zona de­bate helped him close a dou­ble-digit deficit and even­tu­ally pass Mr. San­to­rum to win in Michi­gan.

But de­bates have served two of his three ri­vals well, too. The face­offs fu­eled both of Mr. Gin­grich’s res­ur­rec­tions from the ashes of his own stalled-out cam­paign. With Mr. Gin­grich’s sin­gle vic­tory in Ge­or­gia on Su­per Tues­day, the for­mer House speaker will be count­ing on a March 19 de­bate in Port­land, Ore., to spark yet an­other come­back.

Iron­i­cally, a good per­for­mance by Mr. Gin­grich may be just what the Rom­ney cam­paign would or­der. The longer Mr. Gin­grich stays in the fray, the less chance for the “any­body-butRom­ney” crowd to co­a­lesce around Mr. San­to­rum.

By the time the Texas pri­mary rolls around on May 29, Mr. Rom­ney will face an­other haz­ard.

Texas is a South­ern state with a large pro­por­tion of evan­gel­i­cals and a pop­u­lar Re­pub­li­can gov­er­nor, Rick Perry, who is ex­pected to try his best to de­liver his state to Mr. Gin­grich.

The Rom­ney team is re­signed to Texas’ not be­ing his kind of state.

But if Mr. Gin­grich is still com­pet­ing and deny­ing Mr. San­to­rum the uni­fied “con­ser­va­tive” wing he needs to wrest the nom­i­na­tion from Mr. Rom­ney, the for­mer Ge­or­gia con­gress­man is likely to find the Rom­ney team silently root­ing for him in Texas.

A Gin­grich win is a San­to­rum loss and, there­fore, in the con­vo­luted logic of this po­ten­tially epic bat­tle, a win for Mr. Rom­ney.

The high-pop­u­la­tion-den­sity fo­cus will be of more help to a Rom­ney can­di­dacy in the fall than a ru­ral Re­pub­li­can fo­cus — and Rom­ney strate­gists are bank­ing on that be­com­ing clear to Re­pub­li­can pri­mary vot­ers as the con­test pro­gresses.

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