Mitt Manages His Money
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama captured the bulk of the media attention as prodigious fundraisers last week. But in many ways, Mitt Romney's achievement was at least as impressive. The former Massachusetts governor startled the political world by collecting $21 million for his Republican presidential campaign, catapulting him ahead of Rudy Giuliani, who leads in national GOP polls and raised only $15 million, and John McCain, who collected $12.5 million.
Even though he remains in single digits nationally and has been criticized for flip-flopping on abortion and gay rights, Romney is one of the most indefatigable candidates in this or any other field. He is telegenic, smart, and forceful-traits that will very likely impress voters when debates begin later this year. Just as important, he is a skilled manager, which he demonstrated with a below-the-radar fundraising surge that few saw coming.
Critics say his financial advantage won't last, but Romney's advisers told U.S. News that he will surprise people again. What his adversaries don't seem to realize is that Romney has, in his typically methodical way, constructed a fundraising network like no other. It is based on seven pillars: fellow Mormons, a very cohesive and affluent constituency; fellow Harvard graduates who want to see him succeed; Michigan contributors who fondly recall his father (the state's former governor); admirers from the business world, where Romney made a fortune; associates from his successful stint as president and CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympic organizing committee; backers from Massachusetts; and traditional GOP donors he impressed as chairman of the Republican Governors' Association.
In politics, money begets money. So winning the first round gives Romney the credibility to expand his network among the political insiders, while giving voters a reason to take a second look. That's been a key part of his strategy all along.
This story appears in the April 16, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.