“Governor Romney is on track to win the GOP nomination, and it is getting harder to see a path to the nomination for any of his rivals,” Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse wrote in a memorandum to reporters Wednesday.
But Romney faces hurdles heading into coast-to-coast contests on Super Tuesday next week. Of the 10 states that will hold votes that day, only three are easy territory for him, while another, Ohio, is a must-win with implications for the general election against President Obama.
Money has become an acute challenge for Romney, who was forced to devote significant resources to fending off Rick Santorum and his other GOP rivals in February. The former Massachusetts governor had less than $8 million on hand at the end of January and has almost certainly burned through most or all of that since then. His campaign spent at least $2.3 million in February just on advertising in Michigan and Ohio, according to a GOP strategist who tracks ad spending.
To sock away cash, Romney has been tacking fundraising events onto his schedule. He raised money in Daytona Beach, Fla., during a visit last weekend to NASCAR’s Daytona 500 race. In Michigan, he invited top donors to a reception Tuesday night as the state’s returns were coming in. On Thursday night, Romney will attend a fundraiser in Bellevue, Wash., and he has scheduled major fundraisers in Florida and New York in March. Another major event has been tentatively set for later in the month in the District.
Romney is also soliciting small-dollar donations online. His campaign released a Web video Wednesday urging supporters to make contributions as small as $10 to his “One Term Fund.”
And in his Tuesday night victory speech in Michigan, he made an unusually personal and public plea: “I’m asking for you, by the way, to go on MittRomney.com and pledge your support in every way possible.”
Romney is hampered by his heavy reliance on big-dollar donors, including those who have already given the maximum donation of $2,500 to his primary campaign. Just 12 percent of the $63 million that Romney raised through January came from donors who gave less than $200.
‘This slog . . . is costing them’
One top Romney fundraiser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to talk candidly, said the campaign clearly is struggling to cope with a fundraising challenge it didn’t expect to have several months ago.
“This slog they’re in is costing them tons of money,” this bundler said. “They’ve got a fundraising challenge in the sense that they have to keep raising money to keep up with the spending. They’re not in the hole or anything, but it’s a struggle.”