- The Washington Times - Friday, July 15, 2011

Relying overwhelmingly on people making the maximum allowable contributions, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney amassed an $18 million haul that dwarfs other Republican presidential candidates, second-quarter financial disclosures released Friday show.

Yet two firebrands mounted last-minute campaigns that seemed to effortlessly raise funds in small increments in weeks while requiring little spending, leaving significant amounts stored away as candidates prepare for the Iowa straw poll next month.

Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning Republican from Texas, raised $4.5 million and has $3 million on hand. Rep. Michele Bachmann, his third-term colleague in Congress,  from Minnesota, focusing all resources on a newly created presidential campaign rather than her House seat, was in a similar position.

Though former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s haul of $4.5 million beat that of Mrs. Bachmann, he seemed to use up most of the take as soon as it reached his bank account, leaving him with less money heading into the third quarter.

Early financial measures of support for other official Republican candidates also were not bright.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had a poor showing of $580,000 raised and $230,000 in the bank. He focused much of his spending on Iowa. Wealthy businessman Herman Cain raised $2 million, but spent nearly all of it, and loaned his campaign half a million dollars in personal funds to have cash on hand.

The flailing campaign of onetime House speaker Newt Gingrich raised $2 million, but spent nearly all of it, and closes the quarter heavily in debt. In the past three months, the Gingrich campaign, which endured an exodus of key staffers last month, racked up unpaid debts of $100,000 in legal fees and $90,000 in communications services.

And in the final days of the quarter, donations slowed to a trickle, with Mr. Gingrich receiving fewer donations per week than in the early spring. The campaign lists $47,000 owed to the candidate himself to compensate or reimburse him for “direct mail list/travel.”

Jon Huntsman Jr., former Utah governor and former ambassador to China, did not file a financial report Friday because of his late entry into the presidential race. As with Mr. Romney, money raised is more a sign of voter enthusiasm than a necessity, as both men have their own means to fund their campaigns.

With the primaries still months away, the nomination race is open, and federal rules allow politicians to raise and spend money through other accounts to “test the waters” without declaring a candidacy.

A fund controlled by one such undeclared politician, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was highly active, spending nearly all of the $1.6 million it raised, overwhelmingly from small donors. Though most could not be transferred to a campaign, it closes the period with more than $1 million dollars in the bank.

The committee set up by Rudolph W. Giuliani for his 2008 presidential run saw activity last quarter, spending $60,000 on administrative costs. The former New York City mayor did not close the account by paying down any outstanding debts, including a $350,000 phone bill, $275,000 for airfare, $215,000 in rent and utilities, and a $141,000 debt to Giuliani Security & Safety, a division of the consulting firm he oversees. Earlier this year, he donated about $1 million to the account, taking it closer to being in the black, and loaned it $300,000.

Such activity is not a sure sign that a politician will run for office, however. The old presidential campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton, now secretary of state under President Obama, has been actively raising money in the past three months, forms filed Friday show, long after it went into debt in a protracted competition against Mr. Obama in 2008.

Despite a $127,000 haul between April and June, the Clinton campaign applied less than a third to paying down a $330,000 debt to pollster Mark Penn.