Romney’s quest for campaign cash has taken him far off the trail to both solid-blue and solid-red states. At seven events in California on July 22 and 23, Romney raised a combined $10 million. A week earlier, he collected $2 million in Louisiana hosting a lunch with Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and brought in more than $1.7 million in Jackson, Miss., on the same night. He hosted three events in the Hamptons in New York and two in Wyoming featuring former vice president Richard B. Cheney.
“More candidate time is being spent on fundraising in this presidential election than we’ve ever seen before,” said Michael Toner, who was general counsel for George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign and an outside lawyer for John McCain’s 2008 bid. “We have a 50-50 nation, and every couple million dollars that you have on hand in October could be the difference in Ohio or Florida or any of these swing states.”
Toner added: “In the old days, there would be relatively few fundraising events in the August-to-October time frame. Those days are over.”
Obama was a fundraising colossus in 2008 as he transfixed the country with his historic campaign, raising a record $750 million, including $150 million in September. But the terrain has changed dramatically for the incumbent, and some major Democrats are reconciled to the reality that he will be outspent this fall, possibly by a significant margin.
“There’s just too much money on the other side for the Democrats to close the gap,” said Democratic National Committee vice chairman Donna Brazile. “We’ll have enough to compete, but [the Republicans] will flood the airwaves with misleading advertising.”
Speaking with reporters on Air Force One on Monday, Obama spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki repeated the campaign’s emphasis on the 98 percent of its donations that were $250 or less — meaning that those donors are under the limit and can continue to contribute.
She acknowledged the long-standing expectation that the president will be outraised but said that the Democrats’ heavy investment in field offices, staff and other infrastructure will be more important in the long run.
“Our focus is on ensuring we have the resources, the tools, to create and build the biggest grass-roots campaign in history,” Psaki said.
For the Romney camp, the fundraising numbers were the one good news story it had to show for a bumpy July. The campaign and its two combined fundraising committees had $185.9 million in the bank at the end of the month; Obama’s team did not announce a cash-on-hand figure.
At the start of July, Romney had $170 million on hand, compared with $144 million for Obama, whose campaign has spent heavily on ads. Just three months before, Obama had a $90 million edge in cash on hand.
“Once again, we see that for many people, this is more than a campaign, it is a cause,” said Spencer Zwick, chairman of Romney’s fundraising effort. “We are honored to have the support of a broad spectrum of donors — independents, Democrats and Republicans — whose support of Governor Romney shows that he has the needed plan to jump-start our economy and get the country on the right track again.”
David Nakamura and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.