GOP Presidential Fundraising Struggles
DEBORAH AMOS, Host:
NPR's Peter Overby reports.
PETER OVERBY: The top four Republicans finished the third quarter with about as much cash between them as either Clinton or Obama has. Mitt Romney, the former venture capitalist and Massachusetts governor, has had to pump up his campaign budget with $17 million from his own checking account. His campaign suggests there's more where that came from. Last night, he ended his remarks on a grateful note.
MITT ROMNEY: America is not going to turn left. America is going to follow the red, white and blue. Thank you so very much. It's an honor to be with you. Thanks for your generosity.
OVERBY: The evening had an uneasy feel to it. Speakers rushed through their remarks. Applause sometimes sounded dutiful. RNC co-chairman Jo Ann Davidson said the event raised more than $5 million.
JO ANN DAVIDSON: Now, that's an unprecedented amount of money, and it's all thanks to you.
OVERBY: The next speaker, former RNC chairman and the night's dinner chairman, Ken Mehlman, called the take less than adequate.
KEN MEHLMAN: Let's every single person in this room find two more people before February 5th to commit to a similar level of support.
OVERBY: Professor Bill Benoit at University of Missouri at Columbia is a long-time observer of presidential politics. He says Republicans could run an unaccustomed second in the money race for the rest of the 2008 campaign.
BILL BENOIT: If you look at the data, the Democrats have raised much more money than the Republicans. And there's a growing dissatisfaction with the Republican president that leads me to believe that it's more likely the Republicans won't be able to raise as much money as the Democrats this year.
OVERBY: But one presidential candidate last night sounded optimistic. Texas Congressman Ron Paul is running a dark-horse campaign that to almost everyone's surprise raised $5 million last quarter. It was nearly as much as McCain. It happened because Paul has become an Internet celebrity.
RON PAUL: I've never had such an easy time in fundraising in all my life.
OVERBY: Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.
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