Romney: GOP for sale; says US$20,000,000.00 is the price for a top-tier position

“BERLIN, N.H. (AP) — Mitt Romney said Friday that presidential rivals Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee need to raise a jaw-dropping $20 million in the next few months to join him in the top tier of the Republican GOP field, raising the stakes in a nomination fight altered by a tumultuous week,” reports the estimable and precise Ron Fournier in a story titled Romney Ups Stakes for Volatile GOP Field.

Feeling the heat of his rivals, the former Massachusetts governor dismissed the notion that a late-entering Thompson and an up-and-coming Huckabee were poised to squeeze into the GOP top tier now occupied by Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“I think you’re going to have to see what level of ground support that they have and what level of fundraising they have,” Romney said in an interview with The Associated Press. “If Huckabee raises $20 million this quarter, like we did in the (first) quarter, then he’ll become a front-tier candidate.”

“And I think from Thompson’s standpoint, I think he certainly has to look at $20 million as sort of the — this is, if you will, the low hanging-fruit quarter for him,” Romney said, adding that it’s easier to raise money in the first weeks of a race when friends, family and allies are tapped.

Romney was trying to raise expectations. His $20 million challenge assumes that Thompson and Huckabee would need as much money to compete in the final four months of the race as Romney needed to jump-start and sustain a yearlong bid.

That may be a false assumption more

Yet this assumption is a frequent Romney trope, one uttered not just by the candidate but by his many flaks, flunkies, and flatterers. See:

Romney supporter: the White House is for sale, and Romney has the money to buy it

We would argue—pro Fournier—that the assumption is indeed false. Consider: Romney’s campaign is US$9,000,000.00 in the red, yet the candidate remains viable owing to his vast, personal fortune. So while it matters how much money you can raise, it matters less in Romney’s case, as he can, and often does, write his own checks. See:

Romney has funded, staffed and organized his campaign akin to an independent candidate, e.g. Ross Perot. He operates largely independently of GOP sources of funding, organization, and support. See:

Gronke asks: “will Mitt Romney be the John Connally of our age?”

Pro Fournier, what matters as much as the money you can raise—or in Romney’s case, the money that you simply have on hand because you happen to be fabulously wealthy owing to accidents of birth, class, and opportunity—is the relative spending power of your dollars—Romney’s campaign suffers from a frighteningly low, and growing ever lower, marginal return on investment. EXAMPLE: Romney spent upwards of US$500.00 for every vote he got at Ames; Huckabee spent US$58.00 for only marginally fewer votes. Also see:

Back to the article:

Thompson, Huckabee and a crowded field of fellow Republicans — including the not-to-be-underestimated John McCain — argue that momentum is as important as money in the post-Labor Day push.

Thompson — a former lobbyist, senator and actor — announced his candidacy this week and hopes a cascade of attention carries him past longer-running candidates just as voters are starting to pay attention.

“Money may be the primary rationale of Mitt Romney’s campaign, but the rest of us know this election is about ideas and who has the best conservative message,” said Thompson spokesman Todd Harris. “Fortunately for us that is something money can’t buy” … more

… [Romney] is an able campaigner. What he lacks in charisma he tries to make up with an almost robotic discipline.

He can come off as a bit cold, as he did during the debate when he dispassionately apologized to a man offended by Romney’s comparison of those serving in Iraq to his son’s work on his presidential campaign.

In Conway, N.H., Romney claimed credit for reducing mercury levels in Massachusetts and struggled to remember the exact percentage of the drop.

“Was it 90 percent?” he said, scanning the crowd for aide Eric Fehrnstrom.

“I don’t know the percentages, governor,” the aide replied loud enough for the crowd to here, “but you reduced mercury emissions from the smokestack industries and also reduced mercury pollution in the environment.”

Romney beamed. “Isn’t this great? I’ve got a verifier over here. So we went after mercury …”

As so happens, Romney enacted anti-mercury regulations initiated by his Republican predecessormore [emphasis ours]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. Here is Kilmer of redstate.com’s apt and appropriate rejoinder to Romney’s absurd and arrogant claim that to be considered top tier, a candidate needs to raise US$20,000,000.00:

Mitt Romney has a point, in that Huckabee and Thompson will need to raise money to compete for the nomination; that being said, much of Romney’s money has been spent piddling around, building an organization and chasing after telephone poll results and pay-per-play straw poll fundraisers.

Kilmer’s point is redolent of ours. Yes, Romney has funds. But he has no idea how to spend them efficiently or effectively.

Thompson at least has avoided this early nonsense, with Huckabee keeping his spending to relatively reasonable levels. What all candidates – Rudy, Thompson, Huckabee, and Romney – need right now is enough money to keep the message alive in the minds of the voters and to generate excitement. Huckabee seems now to be creating a modicum of excitement, and Thompson has a vast potential for doing it. Giuliani seems not to need to do so, and Romney has shown so far that he cannot generate excitement. This would mean, if it be the case, that Romney would need to spend more money in this endeavor than would Thompson more [emphasis ours]

Just so. Rule of thumb: a Romney campaign dollar—based on Romney’s low-gain performance so far—is worth about 20% of an e.g.  Giuliani or Huckabee campaign dollar. So: to remain competitive with Romney in any US media market, a competent campaigner would only need about US$5,000,000.00. In a Southern state they would probably need significantly less—they would probably need to simply not be Romney.

Moral: The other candidates have demonstrated that they can do far more with far less than Romney.

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    […] Romney: GOP for sale; says US$20,000,000.00 is the price for a top-tier position […]

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