- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was under pressure Wednesday to show he can raise the kind of money needed to keep his presidential bid going, joining a number of lower-tier Republican candidates who need to post a strong third quarter fundraising haul.

Final reports aren’t due until mid-October, but the cash had to be collected by midnight — sending the candidates into frenzied last-minute appeals for contributions, aware that every extra dollar could buy them more time to stay in the race and try to weather the Donald Trump storm that’s upended the race.

Mr. Kasich, who surged in polls after a strong performance in the first presidential debate, but has slid since then, made a fundraising swing through donor-rich Chicago this week, and his campaign begged a national network of supporters to pony up, insisting he’s still “on the rise.”

Gov. John Kasich is the only Midwestern governor in the race who can bring our values to Washington, D.C.,” John Weaver, the Ohioan’s chief strategist, said in a fundraising email. “Gov. Kasich is the only candidate that has the record to defeat Hillary [Clinton].”

Analysts said all eyes will be on Mr. Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, whose poll numbers have been shaky, and for whom a bad fundraising report could be devastating.

“There are only two things that matter as far as perception: it is polls and money,” said Ted Jackson, a Kentucky-based GOP strategist. “You can survive if you have one of those two, but if you are losing on both those fronts I think you are short for this life.”

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For Mr. Kasich and Mr. Christie, they declared their candidacies too late to have to file reports for the last quarter. That means this new report will give the first test of whether they can hang with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and other proven fundraisers.

Lack of money has already helped chase former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from the race.

They struggled to raise enough to fund the nuts-and-bolts campaign operations that can wrangle caucus-goers in Iowa, and pay the ballot fees in South Carolina.

“Knowing how steadily folks are raising money and spending gives a good idea of their viability to stay in for the long haul,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member from Mississippi. “And some may be living off fumes effectively, but then they are hoping the rest of the field crashes for their chance — not too likely.”

The coming reports will help set the table for the next GOP debate on October 28 in Colorado, which CNBC announced will be split into two parts, with those averaging at least 3 percent in national polls getting an invite to the 8 p.m. prime-time event.

Mr. Bush, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson posted the biggest fundraising numbers in the last reports, and analysts said they will likely have good quarters this time, too. Mr. Carson on Wednesday announced a record haul, more than $20 million in the past three months to fuel his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, setting a new bar for his GOP rivals.

“You know, the pundits all said that we would never be able to mount a national campaign for financial reasons, but here we are approaching 600,000 donations,” Carson told The Associated Press while campaigning in New Hampshire. “The people have gotten involved, and that’s something I think they probably never anticipated.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal had a tougher time bankrolling contributions.

Analysts are now trying to predict who the next drop-out will be.

“Rand Paul is likely the next one out of this race and so I think a lot of people will be looking at his fundraising to see if it has indeed it has dried up as people said it has,” said Mark Weaver, an Ohio-based GOP strategist who is unaffiliated in the race and unrelated to Mr. Kasich’s campaign manager.

Indeed, Mr. Paul sounded the alarm in a fundraising plea this week, warning supporters that “this is by far THE most critical fundraising deadline I’ve ever faced.”

“The press and the Big Government establishment of BOTH parties are already sniffing around to see if my campaign has the grassroots support and resources it will take to surge to the top of the Republican Primary polls,” Mr. Paul said in his fundraising appeal.

In a fundraising email this week, Mr. Christie offered people the chance to enter a contest have a beer with him and his wife, Mary Pat, in exchange for chipping in a few bucks for his campaign.

“It is going to be hard to meet and talk with every single person face to face along the campaign trail, so I thought I would see if you wanted to grab a beer and talk about how we move our country forward,” Mr. Christie said in the email.

Mr. Christie’s supporters said they were upbeat.

“We will have sufficient money to do what we need to do,” said Bobbie Kilberg, a top Christie donor.

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