Rom­ney leads GOP hope­fuls in fill­ing war chest

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

As ex­pected, Mitt Rom­ney is steam­rolling all other GOP pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls in the dash for cash, ac­cord­ing to sec­ond-quar­ter fundrais­ing re­ports trick­ling in. But the en­tire Repub­li­can field is pulling in less than it did in 2008, and the even­tual nom­i­nee will al­most cer­tainly be left in the dust fi­nan­cially by Pres­i­dent Obama, whose cam­paign is shoot­ing to raise $1 bil­lion or more.

Mr. Rom­ney’s cam­paign is ex­pected to re­port a sec­ond-quar­ter haul of be­tween $15 mil­lion and $20 mil­lion, while Mr. Obama’s re-elec­tion ef­fort has a tar­get of $60 mil­lion. Fi­nal sec­ond-quar­ter re­ports, cov­er­ing April 1 to June 30, must be filed with the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion by July 15.

Even if Mr. Rom­ney re­ports only $15 mil­lion, that will still be more than three times as much as his near­est com­peti­tors. For­mer Utah Gov. Jon Hunts­man Jr. raked in about $4.1 mil­lion, and for­mer Min­nesota Gov. Tim Paw­lenty amassed about $4.2 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the Associated Press.

But the big­gest sur­prise may be Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a tea party fa­vorite who sur­prised po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts in 2008 with strong pri­mary show­ings and even stronger fundrais­ing tal­lies. In the sec­ond quar­ter, Mr. Paul pulled in nearly $4.5 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a cam­paign press re­lease.

Mr. Paul at­trib­uted his fi­nan­cial prow­ess to the fact that Repub­li­can vot­ers now re­al­ize that much of what he preached in 2008, such as the need to dra­mat­i­cally re­duce gov­ern­ment spend­ing or risk a debt cri­sis, has turned out to be right.

“I’m the only can­di­date who can say that I pre­dicted our coun­try’s cur­rent eco­nomic trou­bles,” he said in a writ­ten state­ment to sup­port­ers.

Mean­while, busi­ness­man and ra­dio talk-show host Her­man Cain raised about $2.5 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to his cam­paign. He told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto two weeks ago that he had to “prime the pump” from his per­sonal bank ac­count, though he wouldn’t re­veal ex­actly how much of his own money he dumped into cam­paign cof­fers.

“I’m not rich,” he said dur­ing his Fox News ap­pear­ance. “I won’t have more money than any of the can­di­dates [. . .] but we are build­ing this cam­paign team like I would a busi­ness. And that is, we are build­ing it so far with no debt.”

Mr. Cain wasn’t the only can­di­date to dig into his own pock­ets to pad fundrais­ing num­bers. Mr. Hunts­man also used per­sonal funds to bulk up his cam­paign’s war chest, the AP re­ported, though it is not clear ex­actly how much.

For­mer House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he raised $2 mil­lion in the sec­ond quar­ter while the cam­paigns of Rep. Michele Bach­mann of Min­nesota and for­mer Sen. Rick San­to­rum of Penn­syl­va­nia had not re­leased sec­ondquar­ter num­bers as of press time.

When the fi­nal fundrais­ing num­bers are re­vealed, Mr. Gingrich’s num­bers will likely come un­der the most scrutiny. Sev­eral key cam­paign work­ers re­signed last month, cit­ing Mr. Gingrich’s sup­posed lack of in­ter­est in fundrais­ing as one of the rea­sons they cut ties with the Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can, who has since re­tooled his staff and sol­diered on.

He’s also come un­der fire from many fel­low Repub­li­cans for crit­i­ciz­ing as­pects of the GOP’s “Path to Pros­per­ity” bud­get plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can and chair­man of the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee.

Mr. Gingrich is also floun­der­ing in the polls. A re­cent Fox News sur­vey found that only 3 per­cent of likely Repub­li­can pri­mary vot­ers backed him as their first choice.

Mr. Rom­ney, on the other hand, has cou­pled strong fundrais­ing num­bers with equally strong per­for­mance in the polls. He leads the pack with 18 per­cent of the vote, the Fox News poll showed. Texas Gov. Rick Perry came in sec­ond with 13 per­cent, even though Mr. Perry hasn’t yet thrown his hat into the ring. Mrs. Bach­mann came in third with 11 per­cent, fol­lowed by for­mer Alaska gov­er­nor and 2008 vice-pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sarah Palin, who, like Mr. Perry, has yet to en­ter the race.

Mr. Paul and Mr. Cain pulled in 7 per­cent and 5 per­cent, re­spec­tively, with Mr. Paw­lenty, Mr. San­to­rum and Mr. Hunts­man join­ing Mr. Gingrich at the bot­tom with 3 per­cent or less.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

In the money: Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and for­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney works the crowd as he marches in the Fourth of July pa­rade in Amherst, N.H.

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