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 email 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 with 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 “grass-roots 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 the Dec. 31 close of the fourth-quarter reporting period Saturday, though they won’t report their fundraising totals and who has donated 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Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida — will have voted, and candidates short of support and money will have withdrawn.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, Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, led the money race with almost $33 million. Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised $17 million and Paul, a Texas congressman, brought in almost $13 million.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota received $7.5 million through September. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman raised $2.2 million and lent his campaign another $2.2 million. At the bottom of the pack for the third quarter of 2011 were Gingrich, a former House speaker, with $2.9 million and former Pennsylvania Sen. 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.”
A fundraising pitch that Gingrich manager Krull emailed today sought an additional $1 million in donations by the end of Saturday. “We need a candidate with the courage to go beyond timid disagreements and to undress the failed policies of liberalism with stark conservative arguments,” he wrote.
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 emailed supporters about his third-place finish in a CNN/Time/ORC International poll on the Republican race released on Thursday.
“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 saying they are the “consistent conservative” that primary voters want. On Thursday, Bachmann 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 on the Iowa caucuses. He has increased his efforts in Iowa recently to fend off Gingrich's surge in the polls and Paul's steady climb.
Although Gingrich’s email recalls the threat of British Redcoats and their hired mercenaries, Paul is fighting what his campaign calls “an all-out smear campaign” on the candidate. “The attack dogs have been unleashed like never before,” Paul said 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 email a day later.
At least one presidential candidate has written off Iowa, focusing his campaign instead on New Hampshire.
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 Thursday in an interview with CBS. “They actually pick presidents here in New Hampshire.”
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