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Romney loans way to lead in GOP funding

Only $6.5 million of his own money puts him ahead of Republican front-runner Giuliani. Democrats fare better.

July 04, 2007|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

Republican presidential contender Rudolph W. Giuliani announced Tuesday that he raised $17 million in the second quarter, while rival Mitt Romney -- whose fundraising from others fell sharply -- held on to the GOP money race lead by lending himself $6.5 million.

Six months before the first primary, Republican fundraising lags far behind Democrats', accounting for less than $43 million compared with $80-million-plus for Democrats in the second quarter alone.

Former New York Mayor Giuliani was the only top GOP hopeful who raised more money in the second quarter than in the first 90 days of the year, an apparent reflection on his standing as the GOP front-runner in national polls.

"A lot of Republicans want to bet on a winner, and they see him as a winner," said John J. Pitney Jr., a Claremont McKenna College government studies professor.

Giuliani has $18 million in the bank, and no debt, the candidates' aides said in a statement. Altogether, he has raised $33 million this year. However, campaign fundraising rules restrict about $2 million of his second-quarter income to use in the general election, should he capture the nomination.

"We are thrilled by our fundraising this quarter, and are running a strong and efficient campaign," Giuliani campaign manager Mike DuHaime said in the statement.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney reported raising $14 million in contributions -- a steep decline from the almost $21 million he raised in the first quarter.

He pumped his total to beyond $20 million by giving himself the $6.5-million loan. Counting his loans, Romney has raised and loaned his campaign $43.9 million this year; the entire $35 million he has raised from other people can be used for the primary.

Romney had $12 million in the bank -- a number that would have been halved if he had not loaned himself the $6.5 million.

Romney's latest loan comes on top of $2.35 million he already gave his campaign. Candidates who loan themselves money can either forgive the debt or use donors' contributions to repay themselves.

Romney used his wealth to pay for his campaign for Massachusetts governor in 2002. He amassed a fortune thought to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars while overseeing the Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital.

His current holdings are not known. Federal candidates must complete a form showing their holdings, but Romney received permission from the Federal Election Commission to delay his disclosure until August.

Although most national polls continue to show that Romney has only about 10% support among likely GOP voters, his wealth and broad fundraising network could make him a formidable candidate. He has boosted his standing in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire by spending $4.2 million on television ads in those states this year.

Giuliani has spent no money on television ads.

Giuliani and Romney exceeded the fundraising numbers reported by onetime front-runner Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain earlier disclosed that he had $2 million in the bank after raising $11.2 million in the second quarter. Former Sen. Fred Thompson, expected to announce his candidacy in mid-July, won't be required to disclose his fundraising until mid-October.

The GOP's generally lackluster second-quarter fundraising took place at a time when the war in Iraq dragged on and President Bush's popularity was at historic lows.

"The atmospherics among Republicans are very somber," said Rutgers University political scientist Ross K. Baker.

In one indication of the enthusiasm shown by party loyalists, Democrats have attracted far more individual donors than have Republicans. Romney estimated he had more than 80,000 donors. Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has tapped more than 250,000 donors, and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, thought to be the third-leading Democrat in fundraising, behind Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, claims 100,000 donors.

Not counting Romney's loans, the top three Republicans have raised a total of $92 million this year. The top three Democrats have raised $133 million, and lesser Democrats have raised additional millions. Republican officials say they aren't alarmed, however.

"All this primary stuff is not going to matter much in August '08, when the lines are drawn," said Orange County attorney and consultant Ken Khachigian, who is advising Thompson.

"If Hillary is the nominee, you'll start seeing the juices flow on the other side," he said.

Times staff writer Michael Finnegan contributed to this report.

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