Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “US politics live: Mitt Romney polling recovery as Super Pacs rake in cash” was written by Richard Adams, for guardian.co.uk on Tuesday 21st February 2012 23.23 UTC

9am: Mitt Romney‘s advantage as the best-funded candidate in the GOP presidential race is being eroded, as the latest figures show Romney’s campaign has been burning through its cash pile like a dotcom start-up, while his rivals and their Super Pacs are closing the fundraising gap.

According to January’s fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Romney and his supporting Super Pac spent well more than $32m during the month, with only wins in New Hampshire and Florida to show for it, while his campaign raised just $6.5m during the same period.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake calculates:

The Romney campaign spent heavily on the four states holding contests in January – nearly $19 million for the month – and ended it with $7.7 million in the bank. In other words, for every dollar he raised, he spent nearly $3.

Thought for the day: Bain Capital Romney would probably shut down Presidential Candidate Romney for being a bad business proposition.

Meanwhile, Romney is struggling against Rick Santorum in upcoming primaries, including Michigan next week, as well as key states such as Georgia and Ohio on 6 March, the so-called “Super Tuesday”.

We’ll be covering the day’s action here, and rounding up all the Super Pac and campaign finance news coming out of the Federal Election Commission data.

9.14am: The Guardian’s Ryan Devereaux has a summary of some of the latest news from the campaign trail:

• The latest Federal Election Commission reports were released on Monday. According to the FEC’s findings, the GOP presidential hopefuls are relying heavily on the millions of dollars of support provided by their various Super Pacs. Mitt Romney spent $19m in January, while he raised $6.5m. Meanwhile his Super Pac, Restore Our Future, raised $6.6m and spent nearly $14m. Much of that money went to attacking Newt Gingrich in Iowa and Florida. Gingrich raised $5.6m and spent almost $6m, while his Super Pac raised $11m. Fresh off his wins in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, as well as a leap in national polls, Rick Santorum raised $4.5m, as did Texas congressman Ron Paul.

• A sign of how influential the Super Pacs have become in the GOP presidential primaries: collectively the campaigns spent about $5m more than the Super Pacs during January. However, the Super Pacs together raised more than the combined candidates, pulling in $22.1m. The Super Pacs ended January with $19.4m in cash in the bank, around $5m more than the individual candidates.

• Newt Gingrich’s mega-backer, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson says the $11m he and his wife have donated so far barely scratches the surface of what he’s capable of contributing. In an interview with Forbes, Adelson said: “I might give $10m or $100m to Gingrich.” Adelson went on to suggest that he doesn’t necessarily agree with the influence of big money on politics, but since that’s the way things are, he’ll go with it: “I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing politics…but as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it.” Adelson went on to say that people like George Soros have been making substantial political donations through corporations for years, “if not decades”.

• Ron Paul has launched an anti-Santorum ad in Michigan. The 35-second video clip has a youth-oriented tone and calls the former Pennsylvania senator’s fiscal conservative street cred into question. The ad begins by asking “Is this dude serious?” then goes on to criticize Santorum for voting to raise the debt ceiling, expanding entitlement programs, sending billions to “dictators” in Egypt and North Korea and, even worse, “hooked Planned Parenthood up with a few million bucks.”

• In a turn-up for the books, Rick Santorum has accused the president and the Democratic party of being “anti-science”. Speaking at a rally in Ohio, Santorum argued that the Obama-friendly crowd, in their support for environmental regulations, had neglected their responsibility to be “stewards of the Earth”. According to Santorum, “It’s so funny that this party that criticizes the right for being anti-science, but when it comes to the management of the Earth, they are the anti-science ones! We’re the ones who stand for science and technology and using the resources we have to make sure we have a quality of life in this country and maintain a good and stable environment.”

9.34am: What is it about Republican front-runners that makes them insert their foot in their mouth at the same time as shooting themselves in the same limb? As regular as clockwork, as soon as a non-Romney contender leads in the polls, they start on a course of verbal self-harm.

And lo, it came to pass on Sunday. Rick Santorum – now leading in national polls of Republican party voters – speaking at a mega-church in the delightfully named town of Cumming, Georgia, and decided to compare President Obama with Hitler. Ah yes.

As the Wall Street Journal reported:

At one point Sunday evening, [Santorum] appeared to compare the crisis Americans currently face to the onset of World War II, led by “this guy over in Europe.” Mr Santorum seemed to be comparing President Obama to Hitler, but he didn’t say which historical figure he was referring to and his spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

“Remember, the Greatest Generation for a year and a half sat on the sidelines while Europe was under darkness,” Mr Santorum said. “Why? Because we’re a hopeful people. We think, ‘Well, you know, it’ll get better. Yeah, he’s not, I mean, he’s a nice guy. I mean, it won’t be as near as bad as what we think. I mean, you know, this will be OK. I mean, you know, yeah, maybe he’s not the best guy.’ After a while you found some things out about this guy over in Europe, but he’s not so good of a guy after all.”

He continued later, “It’s going to be harder for this generation to figure this out. There’s no cataclysmic event.” And concluded by asking, “Is anybody reminding us who we are, what made us great what these assaults are all about? To clear the way.

To “clear the way”?

Memo to figures in public life: as a rule of thumb, comparing people to Hitler is usually a mistake

9.51am: Buzzfeed Politics continues its brilliant tactic of finding old stuff hidden in corners of the internet, in this case various blogs written by members of the Romney family. Which were promptly taken offline by various members of the Romney family, revealing that they don’t really get how it all works:

[Mary] Romney’s blog is of a kind with her generation’s happy hipster aesthetic, sharing with other Mormon mommy blogs a colorful, flowery blend of vintage lettering and cupcake photos that call to mind Zooey Deschanel — if she were a churchgoing mother of three.

Anyway, today’s key fact as unearthed by Buzzfeed: in 2007 Mitt Romney’s adult son Craig dressed as his own father for Halloween. You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to figure out the significance of that, right?

10.15am: The rise of the Super Pacs and their influence is writ large in the latest FEC filings.

The New York Times looks at the numbers and reveals:

The spending reports revealed the breadth and power of Super Pacs as the campaign hits a critical and perhaps decisive period, with outside groups poised to pick up a growing share of political spending during the costly primary battle that lies ahead.

Bolstered by Mr Romney’s extraordinarily high burn rate, the campaigns spent about $5m more during January than the Super Pacs supporting them. But over all, Super Pacs backing the four leading Republican contenders raised $22.1m in January, slightly more than the candidates themselves, and ended the month with $19.4m in cash on hand, about $5m more than the candidates had.

The problem for Romney is that he is draining his big donors by taking the maximum $2,500 contribution allowed by federal law, with 44% of his contributors hitting the ceiling. This is what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2008.

More generally, only a few dozen big donors are behind the bulk of Super Pac contributions, including Silicon Valley tycoon and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who donated a further $1.7m in January to the Endorse Liberty Super Pac that backs Ron Paul, or three-quarters of the $2.3m it raised.

Another example is the Rick Santorum-supporting Red, White and Blue Fund Super Pac, which raised $2.1m in January – half of which came from Louisiana-based energy executive William J Dore, Politco reports. The better-known Santorum backer Foster Friess also gave $669,000, on top of the $331,000 he gave to the Super Pac earlier.

10.30am: Bloomberg has an excellent round-up of the Super Pac filings, including this sign of how much Mitt Romney‘s fortunes are tied to his Super Pac:

Restore Our Future, a US political action committee supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, started this month with about $16m in cash – 26 times more than its chief competitor’s camp.

10.50am: Comparisons between 2008 and 2012 fundraising are interesting.

In January 2008, Barack Obama alone raised more than $36m, while Hillary Clinton managed over $13m, for a combined $50m.

In January 2012, the four Republican candidates combined managed $21m: Romney $6.5m, Gingrich $5.6m, Paul $4.5m and Santorum $4.5m.

The lower 2012 numbers may not all be lack of enthusiasm on the part of Republican donors: the state of the economy isn’t as good as it was in early 2008.

11.06am: The next Republican battleground is the state of Michigan, which votes (along with Arizona) in a week’s time. But the voters of Michigan appear as bemused by the Republican race as everyone else, according to a new poll, which suggests Romney’s big cash advantage is doing the trick.

After a bunch of polls last week showed Rick Santorum in the lead, today’s numbers from local pollsters Mitchell Research & Communications Inc put Mitt Romney back in the lead in his one-time home state, albeit among a small sample size

The poll has Romney at 32% and Santorum at 30%, with Newt Gingrich on 9% and Ron Paul at 7% – but a massive 22% of those surveyed still undecided. The pollsters comment:

Reports show Romney is spending twice as much on media as Santorum and it would seem as though it is having an impact…. The strong negative ads being run in Michigan defining Santorum as a big spender have had a huge impact. Romney’s message and resources have put him back into the lead.

11.25am: Mitt Romney speaking just now in Arizona: “In business, you can’t spend more than you take in.”

Entirely unrelated fact: In January Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign spent $19m, and raised just $6.5m.

11.38am: A friend of George Romney, former governor of Michigan and father of you-know-who, explains the differences between Romney père et fils:

George was a leader. Mitt is a manager,” said J Bonner Ritchie, a retired business professor at Brigham Young University who was a friend of George’s and has interviewed Mitt for an unpublished book about his father. “George was willing to take risks. He was less concerned about what people would think about him. Nobody ever accused George of flip-flopping or playing to the audience.

An unpublished book about George Romney, you say? That would be timely and interesting in the midst of his son’s presidential campaign, you say? Well:

Ritchie said he and his two co-authors haven’t titled their book yet and are delaying its publication at the request of Mitt Romney, 64, who helped fund the project.

12.04pm: Finally, an answer to the question: what is Pinterest all about? It’s a fun way of showing just how high-rolling the Romney campaign is, and embarrassing it at the same time.

Here’s this Pinterest: Luxury Hotels Of The Romney Campaign, based on spending receipts reported in the campaign’s FEC filings.

And then there’s this Pinterest: Private Jets Of The Romney Campaign, based on the same.

12.20pm: The Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson identifies why the 2012 GOP primaries are different: the Super Pacs mean that a candidate can be kept afloat past the point of normal political gravity:

Whereas in the past, candidates would have to drop out of the race because they could no longer raise the money to propel their candidacies, now Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich can continue thanks in large part to the support of a single backer who donates to a super PAC supporting them.

Of course, under federal election law, Super PACs are prohibited from coordinating with a candidate campaign. But by spending big bucks on the expensive TV ads, they leave the candidate’s real campaign “with little responsibility for themselves other than raising enough for travel and lodging expenses”.

12.37pm: Meanwhile the Romney campaign – or should I say, entirely unaffiliated supporters of the Mitt Romney campaign – continue to show mirthless dedication to their cause.

Today’s evidence is the “hilarious” website UnravelTheSweater.com. Because, you know, Rick Santorum wears a sweater-vest and that’s become a thing. So let’s pummel it to death.

This website disclaimer is the funniest part and it’s not really even funny:

Not authorized by any candidate or committee. And yes, sweaters were harmed in the making.

1pm: It’s a joke Newt Gingrich has used a few times on the campaign trail: “You can’t put a gun rack in a Volt,” a reference to GM’s new electric car subsidised by the US government.

But American ingenuity knows no bounds – as Newt agrees, based on his plans for a Moon Colony – and so it proves: you can indeed put a gun rack in a Volt. Also, in a Prius.

1.18pm: Today’s Momentary Internet Excitement is a 2008 speech by Rick Santorum at a Catholic university in Florida, dusted off last week and given a Drudge splash today. Yawn.

In it, Santorum is heard maintaining that Satan is plotting to bring down the US. And so far Satan appears to be winning, according to 2008 Rick Santorum:

The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.

Obviously this was before the NBA embraced Jeremy Lin, who outscored Satan last week, according to David Brooks of the New York Times. Rock concerts and movies are still satanic.

1.35pm: The Centre for Responsive Politics, otherwise known as OpenSecrets.org, delves into the lifestyles of the rich and mega-rich through their lavish political donations to Super Pacs:

Super Pacs supporting presidential candidates continue to take in six- and seven-figure contributions from individuals who also have given the legal maximum to the candidate’s campaign committee.

During 2011, the super Pac supporting GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney pulled in contributions from 172 individuals who also gave the legal maximum to Romney’s campaign – 84% of Restore Our Future’s 205 donors.

The double-givers included five individuals who gave $1m to the Super Pac: hedge fund titans Paul Singer, John Paulson and Julian Robertson, homebuilder Bob Perry and former Bain executive Edward Conard, according to a new analysis by Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center and the Center for Responsive Politics.

1.46pm: On Friday Mitt Romney is going to give a big speech on the economy, on which he is going to announce bold new economic plans.

I know what you are thinking: more tax cuts to pander to the red meat of the Republican base? Sadly you are correct, as Larry Kudlow blogs at the National Review Online:

Team Romney tells me there will be a bolder tax-cut plan released either at the debate tomorrow night (if Mitt gets it in) or more formally at his Detroit Economic Club speech on Friday. I’m embargoed from releasing details until tomorrow. But I can say that the new plan will be across-the-board with supply-side incentives….

1.55pm: The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill is out on the campaign trail in Arizona, watching Rick Santorum:

I am at the Maricopa County Republican Party Lincoln Day lunch in Phoenix, Arizona, where Rick Santorum is making a speech after an enthusiastic welcome. Usually at such lunches there are at least a few empty seats near the back but this one is full, if this any indication of Santorum’s growing popularity in the state.

Polls show Santorum’s gap with Romney closing in the state. It may be too difficult, though, given that a big Mormon population here will vote almost en bloc for Romney. But there is also a large Tea Party movement in the state and if it swings in behind Santorum then things could be interesting. When John McCain was seeking re-election as senator in 2010, he faced a serious challenge in the Republican primary from a Tea Party-backed candidate, JD Hayworth. McCain had to veer right and spend huge amounts on advertising to stay safe – and Hayworth wasn’t even much of a candidate.

2.15pm: Still watching Santorum in Arizona, Ewen MacAskill reports:

Santorum used his Maricopa County speech to lavish praise on the Tea Party. It is really his only chance in Arizona: if he can get the movement behind him.

2.30pm: The Indiana general assembly passed a motion celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts and lauding it “for the strong positive influence it has had on the American woman.” Hooray. Everyone voted for it. Well, almost everyone – other than representative Bob Morris:

Morris said he did some Web-based research and found allegations that the Girl Scouts are a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood, that they allow transgender females to join, “just like any real girl,” and encourage sex.

Morris also said the fact that first lady Michelle Obama is honorary president “should give each of us reason to pause before our individual and collective endorsement of the organization.

2.48pm: Ashamed by your lack of Super Pac knowledge? Confused by the post-Citizens United political financing landscape? Can’t tell the difference between Restore Our Future and Winning Our Future? Well, help is at hand.

By watching this one, easy-to-swallow animated interactive video, soon you will be able to furrow your brow and intone on “the influence of Super Pacs” just like a real journalist or Fox News employee.

3.21pm: Politics in Florida appears to be a full-contact sport, judging by this Miami Herald profile of Republican party US Senate primary candidate Connie Mack:

The incidents came to light after a February 1992 brawl with then-professional baseball player Ron Gant at an Atlanta bar called Calico Jack’s. A waitress testified that Mack, who had been heavily drinking beer and Jagermeister shots all night, took the first swing at Gant. Mack testified he couldn’t remember how much beer he drank, but said he had only one liquor shot — of tequila.

Gant claims a drunken Mack repeatedly bumped into him, precipitating a fight. Mack claims Gant attacked him for no reason.

During the melee, Gant head-locked Mack. Mack testified that he couldn’t breath. So he starting striking and grabbing the ball player’s crotch. At a certain point, the club’s bouncers got involved and Mack broke his ankle. He sued Gant, who was held liable. But a jury awarded no damages.

Bonus points for the phrase: “Then, in 1988, Mack’s car windows were smashed by a man wielding a baseball bat.”

3.34pm: A new Rasmussen Reports survey of likely Republican voters in Michigan puts Rick Santorum in the lead with 38%, followed by Mitt Romney’s 34%, Ron Paul 10% and Newt Gingrich at 9%. Eight percent remain undecided.

3.49pm: The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill listens to Rick Sanotorum make his pitch to voters in Arizona today:

Santorum made a direct appeal for Tea Party support at the Phoenix rally. “I love the Tea Party,” he said. He applauded the movement for, according to him, restoring knowledge and respect for the constitution. He recalled that as a senator he recalled colleagues sniggering when the constitution was mentioned, regarding it as outmoded.

He criticised Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her remarks earlier this month saying the US constitution was not a model she would necessarily recommend for a post-revolution government and suggested instead the South African model.

Santorum needs the Tea Party movement, which has a big presence in Arizona, to make up ground on Mitt Romney. He is due to speak at a rally in Phoenix tonight and at a Tea Party rally in Tuscon on Wednesday. He received an enthusiastic response among the lunch-goers for his speech today in Phoenix.

Gary Fitt, 54, an unemployed teacher from Phoenix and a Tea Party member, said he is leaning towards Santorum, though has not finally decided between Santorum and Newt Gingrich. The CNN candidates debate tomorrow would help make up his mind.

He will not vote for Romney, regarding him as inconsistent and insincere. His Mormonism is also a factor. Fitt, who was brought up a Mormon, said: “They have some far-fetched ideas.”

4.05pm: CNN and Time have just released a new ORC poll of Republican voters in Arizona, where there’s a primary next week.

It shows Mitt Romney with a slim lead over Rick Santorum by 36% to 32%, followed by Newt Gingrich 18% and Ron Paul 6%.

Ha ha, very good. It’s the margin of error of 4.5%, meaning that Santorum could be in the lead.

Harry Enten, who writes polling analysis for us, has a more sophisticated question. If indeed a third of Arizona voters have voted early, that bodes well for Mitt Romney, as it did in Florida.

4.40pm: Good news – there’s one last Republican candidates debate tomorrow night, hosted by CNN in Arizona and starting at 8pm ET (or 1am for European insomniacs).

We shall of course be live-blogging what may be the last hurrah before GOP voters bow before their inevitable Romney overlord (perhaps). But you can play your part by having your say on the questions that have been asked:

Journalists moderating the Republican debates have their priorities, you have yours. But do they match up? The Guardian and NYU’s Studio 20 studied all the questions journalists have asked during the 20 Republican debates held so far. The results reveal the obsessions of the campaign press, and what they think the presidential election is about. In this interactive feature you can tell us which of the news media’s priorities is also a priority for you.

4.55pm: Over at Forbes, Josh Barro has a well-justified pop at Rick Santorum’s “Satan is on the march in America” remarks that have been resurrected from a speech he gave in 2008:

Let’s think back to what America was like almost 200 years ago. Slavery was legal, indeed enshrined in our Constitution by our Founding Fathers. The federal government was forcibly removing American Indians from their lands, leading to thousands of deaths. Women couldn’t vote and were limited in their rights to own property. And yet, Santorum sees Satan wielding more success and having more influence over America today than he did then.

6.23pm: That’s it for today. Thanks for reading once again, and join us tomorrow for our buildup to the CNN debate, and for the debate itself. No, I can’t wait, either.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Share →

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:


Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop us a note so we can take care of it!

UA-28480107-1 [s2Member-Security-Badge v="1" /] [s2Member-Security-Badge v="1" /]
%d bloggers like this: