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(For more 2012 campaign news, see ELECT.)
Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Newt Gingrich’s staff compares the next few days of his presidential campaign with George Washington’s crossing of the ice-filled Delaware River during the American Revolutionary War more than 200 years ago.
“Our preparations are coming to an end,” Gingrich’s campaign manager, Michael Krull, said in a Dec. 26 e-mail to supporters. “Grab an oar and make a donation.”
Days before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Republican hopefuls are ramping up fundraising pitches by reinforcing the images put forward by their campaigns. For Gingrich, who rarely misses an opportunity to draw on his background as a history professor, that means comparing his slog through Iowa to Washington’s successful sneak attack in December 1776.
Mitt Romney’s national finance chairman, Spencer Zwick, said the candidate who has out-raised his opponents “is best prepared in organization and resources to go toe-to-toe against Obama’s billion-dollar political machine in 2012.”
Ron Paul asked his army of “grassroots patriots” to raise $2 million for the man who has “often stood alone” for libertarian positions.
“The name of the game is showcasing differentiation wherever it exists,” said David Primo, a political science professor at the University of Rochester in New York. Otherwise, the candidates “are like products in a marketplace where many of the items are pretty similar,” he said.
Candidates are pushing for contributions ahead of tomorrow’s close of the fourth quarter reporting period, though they won’t report their fundraising totals and who’s donating to them until Jan. 31. By then, the first four states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida -- will have voted, and candidates short of support and money will have withdrawn.
Through Sept. 30, former Massachusetts Governor Romney led the money race with almost $33 million. Texas Governor Rick Perry had raised $17 million and Paul, a Texas congressman, had brought in almost $13 million.
Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann had received $7.5 million through September. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman raised $2.2 million and lent his campaign another $2.2 million. At the bottom of the pack were Gingrich, a former House speaker, with $2.9 million, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, with $1.3 million.
The Gingrich campaign, yet to report its fourth-quarter fundraising, says it has been strong.
“The campaign for the fourth quarter has raised a similar amount of money to what John McCain raised in 2007 at the same point,” R.C. Hammond, Gingrich’s campaign spokesman, said in Le Mars, Iowa, this week. “To save you from having to look it up, that’s about $9 million.”
While Gingrich’s campaign has repaid some of its debt, Hammond declined to say how much. The campaign will end the quarter showing a positive balance of cash on hand, he said.
Pressure is mounting now with a last-minute spending spree in Iowa and the need to build up cash reserves for the contest in New Hampshire a week later and the states beyond, should the candidates survive in the race that long.
Santorum e-mailed supporters about his third-place finish in the latest CNN/Time/ORC International poll on the Republican race released yesterday.
“We have the momentum on our side now to surprise everyone with a strong finish in the Iowa caucuses,” he wrote in the fundraising pitch. “But we need to make sure we have the resources to contact the caucus goers between now and caucus day.”
Huntsman and Bachmann both sent out fundraising appeals arguing they are the “consistent conservative” that primary voters want. Bachmann yesterday compared herself with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose conservative policies earned her the nickname “Iron Lady.”
“As president I want to be America’s Iron Lady,” Bachmann said.
Romney, long one of the front-runners, had focused more on New Hampshire’s Jan. 10 primary election than Iowa. He’s increased his efforts in Iowa recently to fend off a surge in the polls by Gingrich and a continued steady climb by Paul.
While Gingrich’s e-mail harkens back to the threat of British Redcoats and their hired mercenaries, Paul is fighting what his campaign calls “an all-out smear campaign” on the candidate. Paul said “the attack dogs have been unleashed like never before” in a Dec. 26 fundraising appeal.
“With the attacks coming fast and furious, you and I need to raise another $2 million to be able to keep taking Ron Paul’s liberty message straight to the voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and the other early states,” his campaign manager, John Tate, said in an e-mail a day later.
At least one presidential candidate has written off Iowa, focusing his campaign instead on New Hampshire’s primary.
Huntsman’s campaign issued a request yesterday for donations of at least $12 -- 12 days before New Hampshire votes.
“They pick corn in Iowa,” Huntsman said during an interview with CBS yesterday. “They actually pick presidents here in New Hampshire.”
--With assistance from Tim Higgins in Iowa. Editors: Ann Hughey, Mark Silva.
To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at email@example.com; Kristin Jensen in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
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