RNC Raises Over $110M, Sets Stage for Early Election Efforts

Friday, 06 Apr 2012 10:00 AM

By Greg McDonald

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The Republican National Committee (RNC) has raised more than $110 million over the past 15 months, banking nearly half of it in cash and trust fund reserves to be used in the upcoming general election.

According to The New York Times, RNC officials plan to put about $22 million into a “presidential trust” that would be available to likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney as he gears up his campaign to take on President Barack Obama in November.

The Times report on Friday noted that the Democratic National Committee still out-raised the RNC over the same period, taking in about $137 million. But the Democrats spent more, leaving the RNC ahead in cash on hand.

The fundraising success surprised many Republicans, who considered the party to be basically bankrupt heading into the 2012 races. The Times report said the “committee’s unexpected turnaround is a case study in how Republicans are chipping away at Mr. Obama’s advantage in traditional fund-raising.”

The rise of giant fundraising super PACs, like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, also played a key role in the Republican success. The super PACs have taken over a larger role in financing early ads attacking the president, an effort that usually falls to the party’s national committee. According to the Times, that left RNC Chairman Reince Priebus free to focus on rebuilding the party’s base of large donors.

“Reince’s job, as he says, is to spend 80 percent of his time on the telephone and the other 20 percent at state party dinners,” Frank J. Donatelli, a former deputy chairman at the committee, told the Times. “There was a donor strike of sorts at the end of 2010. What he has done is regain the confidence of those major donors.”

Priebus is also moving to set up joint fundraising efforts with Romney as well, the Times reported, noting that Romney in turn has “secured pledges from some of his donors to write large checks to the Republican committee if he becomes the nominee.”

Former RNC Finance Chairman Alfred Hoffman Jr., told the Times that the party’s successful fundraising efforts will allow it to focus “on the ground game and organizing the states” as the general election approaches. “A super PAC can’t do that,” he said.

As part of that effort, the RNC has already opened campaign offices in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, with more openings expected in the coming weeks. The effort also involves an ongoing voter contact operation, especially in the presidential swing state of Wisconsin.

The party has also dusted off its voter database, known as the Voter Vault, which was organized during former President George W. Bush’s administration. The Times said the new system would allow for “nano-targeting” of Republican voters, giving RNC officials more precise information on them than ever before.

“We will be the gold standard of Republican get-out-the-vote efforts,” Priebus said in a statement. “We are at least 90 days ahead of where the R.N.C. has ever been in history.”

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