Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Romney’s $23m beats rivals for funding

Romney’s $23m beats rivals for funding
By Edward Luce in Washington
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: April 2 2007 22:08 | Last updated: April 3 2007 03:35

Mitt Romney, the Republican 2008 presidential candidate, surged ahead of his competitors on Monday, announcing that he raised $23m (£11.6m) from donors during the first quarter of the year – almost double the amount raised by John McCain.

But Mr Romney, whose Mormon faith is controversial with large sections of the Republican party’s evangelical wing, is trailing in third or fourth place in the Republican field, with less than 5 per cent support.

However, the former governor of Massachusetts, whose first quarter totals have been bettered only by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in terms of both the polls and the amount of funds raised ($26m), is well ahead of Rudy Giuliani. The former mayor of New York raised $15m in the first quarter.

“We are not worried about the poll numbers at this stage in the campaign,” said Vin Weber, a senior adviser to Mr Romney. “The important point is that he’s building a clear nationwide campaign network of supporters.”

Mr Romney, the co-founder of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, is by far the richest of the Republican contenders, with an estimated $500m to $600m in personal wealth. According to his campaign, $2.35m of his first quarter total was accounted for by a loan from Mr Romney to his own campaign.

Among the other candidates, Mr McCain, who had been the frontrunner before Mr Giuliani entered the fray and who was also beaten to the nomination by George W. Bush in 2000, on Monday said he had raised $12m.

“John’s first fundraising event was only on March 2 so we have no doubt he’ll catch up before the New Hampshire primary next January,” said Charlie Black a senior McCain adviser.

Monday’s announcements underline the unprecedented cost of the 2008 election cycle among both parties and the fact that the public election financing system is virtually dead.

Michael Toner, the former head of the Federal Elections Commission, recently said that any candidate who raised less than $10m in the first quarter would probably be finished.

Among the Democrats that would include Jo Biden, the senator for Delaware who ran unsuccessfully in 1988, Chris Dodd, the Connecticut senator, and Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico and former Clinton administration ambassador to the United Nations.

In the Democratic field, only Barack Obama, the first-term senator from Illinois, has yet to declare his numbers. Estimates vary from between $15m to $20m – way behind Mrs Clinton but ahead of John Edwards, the former vice-presidential candidate, who raised $14m.

The previous records for fund-raising totals in the first quarter of the “off-year” before the presidential election were held by Phil Gramm among the Republicans, who raised $8.7m in his losing 1995 campaign, and Al Gore, who raised $8.9m in 1999 when he was still vice-president


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