Technically, Mitt Romney can still claim raising the most money this quarter, with $20.5 million. But $6.5 million of that comes in the form of a loan from Romney himself. When it comes to the number that really matters — money raised from donors — Romney's haul falls to $14 million. That's $9 million less than Romney raised in the first quarter of the year. Two weeks ago, there was buzz that Romney would break George W. Bush's $37 million record for an off-year fundraising quarter, but now it appears that if anyone is going to break that mark, it's going to be a Democrat.
The decline in Romney's fundraising is troubling for him not only when it comes to money received, but also because it also appears the campaign is spending quite a bit of cash on TV ads (see below).
Giuliani has been displaced at the top of the polls by Romney in early primary states and has seen Romney and Fred Thompson's imminent candidacy cut into his lead in national polls. Leading the way in Republican fundraising — even if his numbers pale in comparison to Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — could give him a boost at just the right time, especially since Romney and Thompson are expected to begin a pitched battle for the title of the race's "true conservative."
Who else is happy about Giuliani's numbers? Probably Democrats, particularly Obama and Clinton. The money gap between the two parties' top candidates only grew in the second quarter, indicating that Republicans may have more important gaps to worry about: energy and enthusiasm. — David Miller
Libby's Legacy: President Bush's decision to commute the prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby after his conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges may have little impact on Mr. Bush's approval rating — it's already below 30 percent in some polls — but it could leave a lasting mark on the 2008 presidential race.
For Democrats, the commutation serves as another rallying point — one that can be used for fundraising, organizational and motivational purposes. Hillary Clinton was already slamming Mr. Bush's decision during a Monday night appearance in Iowa. In a statement, she said the commutation "sends the clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice."
Rebukes from other Democratic statements were just as strong. However, Republican candidates supported the decision. The Associated Press reports that at a campaign stop in Iowa, Romney — who as Massachusetts governor did not issue any commutations or pardons — said Mr. Bush made a "reasonable" decision. Others seemed more reluctant, particularly Rudy Giuliani, who released a one-sentence statement: "After evaluating the facts, the President came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct."
Giuliani and the other GOP hopefuls would probably like that to be the last word on the issue, but that is unlikely. Still, the impact upon their campaigns will probably be insignificant, with one possible exception: Fred Thompson. Pundits on the left are already making noise about Thompson's ardent defense of Libby, which includes raising money for his defense fund and ardent support for a full pardon.
Thompson's Republican rivals who supported Mr. Bush's move will largely be unable to criticize him for his support of Libby. But it provides ammunition to Democrats who may want to covertly try to take Thompson down, especially if they feel he's on his way to winning the GOP nomination and has a strong chance of winning the presidency. Then again, that kind of recognition from an opponent may be exactly what Thompson is looking for. — David Miller
Postcards From The Edges: More than any other contest in the nominating process, the Iowa caucuses are about strong and reliable organization of individual participants. By rough estimates, about 125,000 Democrats and a slightly smaller number of Republicans will venture out of their homes on a cold, winter night and gather in about 2,000 locations all over the state to participate in a process that could last for hours.
To woo a relatively small number of votes — compared to primary states like New Hampshire — plenty of time and money is allocated by these national campaigns. And often, big rallies like that held by Hillary and Bill Clinton in Des Moines yesterday are less important than the one-on-one meetings in small numbers. In either case, the campaigns aren't likely to let voters walk out of events large or small without having made their best effort to determine who they are, where the live and how to contact them.
At the Clinton event, a small army of volunteers handed out and collected postcards from the crowd as they filed in. The cards asked supporters to pledge to attend the caucuses on behalf the campaign, to provide names, addresses, phone numbers and check off boxes about the level of participation they may be able to provide during the campaign.
That's pretty basic stuff for the caucuses, and anyone filling out such forms can be sure their phone lines and mail carriers will be plenty busy next January. But some of these organizational efforts can say something about campaign strategy. When about 75 Republicans gathered in Jefferson, Iowa, yesterday to meet Romney, they were asked to fill out postcards as well.
While Clinton's eyes are on the January caucuses, Romney's campaign is using next month's Republican straw poll to test out his organization, asking those attending his events to recruit five people each to attend the August event or pledge to do so themselves. With Giuliani and McCain bypassing the straw poll, Romney is expected to win the event, which he has worked on for months, rather easily, even if Fred Thompson eventually decides to participate. Whether Romney can turn this test run into a formidable organization in January is the bigger question but he'll certainly have a lot of phone numbers on hand. — Vaughn Ververs, reporting from Des Moines, Iowa
Where Romney's Money Went: Romney raised more money than any other Republican in the first quarter of 2007, yet recently announced he would spend some of his own money on his presidential campaign. Why would he need to resort to such a step? Perhaps it's because of the sheer volume of ads he's been running in early primary states and nationwide.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Romney's campaign ran 4,549 TV and radio ads through June 10. That's more than double the number run by Democrat Bill Richardson. Nearly half of Romney's ads ran in Iowa, where he has risen to the top of the polls and is the only major candidate competing in August's straw poll.
And if you were wondering whether TV was still a more powerful medium than the Internet, the answer is a solid "yes." While Romney's TV ads have helped vault him to the top of state polls, John McCain's 20.6 million sponsored links between April and May seem to have done little to halt his decline in polling and fundraising. — David Miller
Break Out The Fireworks: Pure Horserace will be taking a day off from musing on America's future to celebrate its past, and we wish all our readers a safe, happy Independence Day. We'll return on Thursday, July 5.
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By David Miller and Vaughn Ververs