“Underwhelming” is the best way to describe the Republican presidential candidates’ latest reports to the Federal Election Commission. During the second quarter of the year, the GOP presidential field collectively raised less than $40 million. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama raised $47 million for his campaign committee from April through June, plus another $38 million for the Democratic National Committee.
Details from the FEC reports are after the jump.
President Obama’s FEC filing is here. I didn’t go through the thousands of pages of contribution details, but the Obama campaign did release a list of nearly 250 “bundlers” who have helped raised $50,000 or more for the 2012 campaign. The Sunlight Foundation posted the list with links to other campaign donation reports. I saw that Comcast Executive David Cohen was one of the bundlers who raised $500,000 for Obama’s campaign. Peter Stone and Aaron Mehta noted for the Center for Public Integrity that Cohen didn’t bundle for Obama’s 2008 campaign: “Cohen recently held a $10,000 a plate dinner at his house for the President. Five months ago, Comcast received approval for a major merger with NBC.” Just a coincidence, I’m sure…
Speaking of the political influence money buys, not long ago the Center for Public Integrity looked at the president’s bundlers from the 2008 election:
• Overall, 184 of 556, or about one-third, of Obama bundlers or their spouses joined the administration in some role. But the percentages are much higher for the big-dollar bundlers. Nearly 80 percent of those who collected more than $500,000 for Obama took “key administration posts,” as defined by the White House. More than half the ambassador nominees who were bundlers raised more than half a million.
• The big bundlers had broad access to the White House for meetings with top administration officials and glitzy social events. In all, campaign bundlers and their family members account for more than 3,000 White House meetings and visits. Half of them raised $200,000 or more.
Business as usual.
In any event, Obama’s big fundraising so early in the cycle has fueled Republican anxiety that the GOP nominee won’t have enough money to compete next year. I don’t think they should worry so much; Obama seems bent on defeating himself.
Mitt Romney was the top fundraiser among the declared Republican presidential candidates. His FEC filing showed about $18.3 million in contributions during the second quarter, just under $5.7 million in expenditures and about $12.7 cash on hand as of June 30. Romney raised several times more than what any other current GOP candidate raised during the quarter, but $18.3 million is not an intimidating number, especially since the Romney campaign had claimed in May to raise $10 million in just one day. It turned out that they counted lots of pledges made earlier to get that $10 million total.
Romney may still be the front-runner for the nomination, based on his strong support in New Hampshire, but it’s obvious that a lot of Republican donors are waiting for someone else to enter the race. I’m not surprised Texas Governor Rick Perry just told the Des Moines Register, “I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that [running for president] is what I’ve been called to do.” With so many Republican donors based in Texas, it probably wouldn’t take Perry long to equal Romney’s cash on hand.
Representative Ron Paul of Texas raised about $4.5 million during the second quarter, spent a little more than $1.5 million and reported a little under $3.0 million cash on hand. Paul just started running his first television commercials in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty raised a little more than $4.3 million during the quarter, spent nearly $2.5 million and has about $2.0 million cash on hand. Pawlenty just upped his television buy in Iowa, under pressure to do well at the state GOP’s August 13 straw poll in Ames.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman didn’t submit a quarterly finance report, because he only recently filed FEC papers declaring his candidacy. However, his campaign announced that it brought in $4.1 million before June 30, “almost half” of which came from the candidate. He probably has more cash on hand than any Republican besides Romney.
Representative Michele Bachmann formally declared her presidential candidacy less than three weeks before the end of the second quarter. Nevertheless, she raised more than $3.6 million between June 13 and June 30. After spending only about $260,000, the Bachmann campaign now has nearly $3.4 million cash on hand, more than Paul or Pawlenty.
Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain raised nearly $2.6 million during the second quarter but spent almost $2.1 million and now has just over $481,000 cash on hand.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum raised only about $582,000 during the second quarter. It’s a pathetic number for someone who served 16 years in Congress. After spending more than $353,000 during the quarter, Santorum has just $229,115 cash on hand as of June 30. I’m convinced that Santorum is trying to become this cycle’s Joe Biden: a candidate who won’t win any presidential primaries but makes himself attractive as a running mate. Santorum is solid on social issues and has more foreign policy experience than most of the field (not counting Huntsman), but I don’t see how the GOP nominee would gain from choosing a guy who lost re-election in Pennsylvania by double digits in 2006, but I also don’t see Santorum dropping out now because of poor fundraising.
Bringing up the rear, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reported raising $2.1 million during the quarter and spending just under $1.8 million. The report shows about $322,000 cash on hand as of June 30, but also more than $1 million in campaign debts. That is a huge hole. Nearly half of that debt is owed to a company that charters private airplanes, and get a load of this from a report by Matt Lewis: “Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond tells me Gingrich was unaware of the financial situation until the consultants left.” Hey, Americans, hire me to get the country’s finances in order. It only took me a few months to run up $1 million in campaign debts, and I had no idea what was going on! Good thing Representative Greg Ganske stepped up to advise Gingrich to fly commercial.
Any comments about money in politics or the 2012 presidential race are welcome in this thread.