As he rushes to catch up with GOP rival Mitt Romney in raising money — including several events in Manhattan this week — Perry is attempting to strike a delicate balance between his appeal to tea party voters and the need to attract donations from wealthy, often less conservative, benefactors. Romney’s fundraising, totaling more than $18 million so far, relies heavily on the kind of Wall Street and corporate funders who remain nervous that Perry’s swaggering style could keep him from beating Obama.
Perry’s argument, insiders say, is that his conservative bona fides will inspire voters in the party’s base while allowing him to court centrists. “Nobody is going to outflank me on the right,” Perry said at a recent gathering, according to one participant, who like many others discussed details of private events on the condition of anonymity.
Even some Perry supporters acknowledge that potential donors remain wary. “There are definitely people who want to see more fleshing out of the governor’s statements,” said Bill Diamond, a veteran party donor who was scheduled to hold a fundraiser for Perry on Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Romney supporters say lingering doubts among GOP donors will limit the Texas governor’s ability to compete. Brian Ballard, a longtime party fundraiser who is backing Romney, said the message in meetings with donors is a simple one: electability.
“It’s what we need to win the election, and Governor Romney is clearly the best person to do that,” Ballard said. “You know what you’ve got. He looks and comes across as presidential.”
Chasing the money
The need to catch up financially with Romney has turned much of the first month of Perry’s candidacy into a dollar chase. Drawing on his longtime ties to the energy and banking sectors, Perry has scheduled dozens of fundraisers from California to Texas to Virginia, hosted by supporters pledging to raise $10,000 or more for his campaign.
Major donors said in interviews that Perry expects to easily raise $10 million to $15 million by the end of this month, with a long-term goal of at least $45 million by the end of the first major primaries in March.
If he succeeds, Perry should be competitive with Romney, though it remains unclear how close, if he won the nomination, he could get to Obama’s fundraising total. The president reported raising more than $86 million for his campaign and the Democratic National Committee through June, putting him far ahead of the Republican field.