Cash-strapped Romney tries to rally donors
US REPUBLICAN Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney has entered the final months of the presidential campaign with a cash balance of just $35 million (€30 million), racing to find new large donors and rally low-dollar contributors in August even while he raised tens of millions of dollars for the Republican Party.
Mr Romney’s campaign took in $67 million that month but spent about that much, twice the rate of spending as in any prior month, according to reports filed on Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. More than half of what Mr Romney raised in August was money he could not spend until after his party convention at the end of the month. And he grew so short of available cash that his campaign borrowed $20 million and sharply curtailed advertising, even while doling out post-convention bonuses to a handful of senior staffers.
The new numbers, along with disclosures filed by major super-Pacs, the presidential advisory committees supporting the two candidates, challenge the appearance of financial strength that had burnished Mr Romney over the summer and show unexpected strengths for President Barack Obama going into the autumn.
While Mr Romney’s combined fundraising apparatus began September with $168.5 million in cash, much of it was sitting in the accounts of the Republican National Committee, which reported cash on hand of about $76.6 million. While an estimated $42 million remains in his joint account with Republican Party committees, only some of it will be available to Mr Romney for his general election campaign.
Mr Obama and the Democrats, by contrast, began the autumn campaign with less money overall, about $125 million. But federal law guarantees candidates, not parties, the lowest available advert rate in the days leading up to a general election. Thanks in part to his army of small donors, Mr Obama gathered more money in his own campaign account than Mr Romney, whose advantage lies in raising large sums that primarily benefit the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Mr Obama began in September with a balance of $86 million, even after spending $65 million on advertising. He raised more than twice as much money as Mr Romney in cheques of less than $200, which donors can give repeatedly without quickly hitting federal contribution limits.
Far less money went to the Democratic National Committee, which is playing less of a role for Mr Obama at this stage in the race. Mr Obama did not transfer to the committee any money from their joint fundraising committee, which holds most of the cash Mr Obama has raised for the party. Instead, the committee borrowed $8 million.
And while the Republican committee spent heavily on advertising in August, its Democratic counterpart spent most of its money on field efforts, ending the month almost $5 million in the red.
The Republicans lead in cash on hand could still give Mr Romney some advantages. The RNC, for example, could devote any portion of its cash on hand to independent expenditures, which are paid for with party money but cannot be co-ordinated with Mr Romney’s or the committee’s strategists.
And the filings suggest a significant amount of untapped money waiting for the Republican nominee on the sidelines. At least 32,000 donors have given the maximum of $2,500 to Mr Romney’s campaign for the primary season running through August, according to an analysis by the New York Times, but have not contributed to the general election.
That group that could generate about $81 million with a second round of general election cheques.
– (New York Times)