- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2011

Each of the Republican presidential candidates has sought the appearance of strength by dominating a niche in the increasingly fragmented political landscape, but could run into difficulties scaling those successes nationally, campaign-finance reports released over the weekend suggest.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney raised $14 million in the third quarter, but the large sum came from a highly limited slice of the American electorate: those in the financial sector and, more specifically, often those with personal ties to the candidate.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry fared even better, raising $17 million in half the time. But a highly disproportionate amount came from his home state and, like Mr. Romney, from those with ties to the governor.

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s much-vaunted reliance on small donors failed to add up to a sum large enough to carry her campaign. The Minnesotan raised about $4 million and spent much more than that. Expenses included $140,000 on chartered air travel.

Lower-profile candidates such as Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had success raising money from a swath of enthusiastic voters, but invested it all in key early-voting states, only to see it fail to translate into broader support.

The filings seemed to doom former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who raised $800,000 and spent nearly all of it, and who owed more than $1 million in reimbursements to staffers, consultant fees, and travel and fundraising expenses.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. finished with no more momentum than he had three months prior — and heavily in debt.

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain’s sudden popularity in recent weeks corresponded to a significant influx in the final days of what had otherwise been a nearly nonexistent fundraising quarter. Payroll records suggest that Mr. Cain has about 38 employees, larger than Mr. Perry’s and Mrs. Bachmann’s staffs, though short of Mr. Romney’s 60-odd roster. The Cain campaign, which raised $2.8 million, was among those most heavily reliant upon small donors, but showed signs of disorganization as it struggled to kick into gear, failing to properly collect and disclose employment information for half of its donors.

Mr. Perry’s reliance on his home state compounds questions raised by political observers about whether his outsized rhetoric and Texas proclivities will translate to success outside of the Lone Star State. Nearly $10 million of $17 million in reported individual contributions came from his home state.

By comparison, Mr. Cain raised only 16 percent from his home state of Georgia, and the Huntsman and Paul campaigns about 13 percent.

Mr. Perry has not attempted to parlay those funds into votes elsewhere. Besides Texas, he outspent rivals only in West Virginia and Missouri.

Mr. Perry’s reluctance to spend early leaves him with $15 million in the bank, but an increasingly less prominent role on the national stage. Mr. Romney, on the other hand, spent 86 percent of what he brought in, a high burn rate this early in the campaign.

Among Republicans, Mr. Romney raised the most in 29 states, while Mr. Perry topped 14, an analysis by The Washington Times showed. Mr. Paul carried six of the smallest states. President Obama outraised each of the Republicans in 35 states.

Only a tiny portion of Mr. Romney’s funds came from outside the financial world, except for the occasional law and lobbying firm and a handful of defense contractors who would stand to prosper under his plan for increased military spending. The exception is more likely to be, say, the owner of the New York Jets, who gave $2,500, than someone who runs a grocery store.

The most donations came from EMC Corp., a technology firm whose vice president was a political appointee of Mr. Romney, and 86 of whose employees gave well over $100,000. Similar amounts came from HIG Capital, a hedge fund founded by a former Romney colleague, and Barclays Capital, where a single lobbyist, Patrick J. Durkin, collected $187,000 from associates.

There are already signs that base is nearing exhaustion, such as a plethora of multi-thousand-dollar contributions attributed to “students” — seemingly financiers giving through their children after reaching legal thresholds themselves. Pro-Romney efforts will never hurt for funds because this base can give unlimited amounts to a separate “super-PAC” run by a former top campaign official.

In addition to depicting measures of support via contributions, the quarterly reports indicate the investments the candidates have been making with those funds, giving insight into strategy and the infrastructure they have built for the future.

Lower-tier candidates outspent the front-runners in Iowa in attempts to project images of popularity in the straw-poll state that could attract more resources. Mrs. Bachmann spent the most there, at $663,000, followed by Mr. Paul at $500,000. Mrs. Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll, but her disproportionate expenditures there suggest results may not translate.

Mr. Huntsman focused efforts on states such as Georgia, Texas and South Carolina. He spent $1.8 million in Florida, far more than any other candidate, and spent more than any other candidate in five other Southern states.

Mr. Romney dominated spending in New Hampshire, which could hold its primary as early as Dec. 6, and which neighbors his home state of Massachusetts, at $2.8 million. No other candidate spent significantly there. Mr. Huntsman placed second a distant second at $410,000 and Mr. Paul was third at $240,000.

Mr. Cain spent 70 percent of the money he raised, with expenditures, including $400,000 on air travel and $400,000 on staff, suggesting a campaign still geared more toward in-person events than national ad campaigns, leaving only $1.3 million in the bank for the fourth quarter.

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