Gop 2012

By Stone, Daniel | Newsweek, August 2, 2010 | Go to article overview

Gop 2012


Stone, Daniel, Newsweek


Byline: Daniel Stone

"Follow the money" is standard advice for anyone trying to understand Washington. Even though no GOP politician has formally declared a run for president in 2012, gauging how much money potential candidates have raised for their political action committees--and what they're doing with it--reveals something about their game plans: key endorsements they're trying to secure and volunteer networks they're aiming to harness. Some of these pols are starting to rev up. Others, not so much.

Mitt Romney

How much he's raised

$5,864,818

Where he's spent it

$324,256 on competitive GOP races in almost every state

What this means

Romney is vying for the Oval Office in the old-fashioned way. Most of his money has gone to incumbents, many in strategic states. And while he's given to some challengers, he's generally favored the moderate establishment, avoiding most Tea Party or other far-right candidates. (An April donation to Florida's Marco Rubio is an exception.) He has also set up state-level political action committees in early-contest states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. What does it all add up to? "He's running," says one strategist working closely with Romney. "There's no way he's not running."

Sarah Palin

How much she's raised

$3,392,735

Where she's spent it

$137,500 on senate and house candidates nationwide

What this means

Count on Palin to do it her way. The former Alaska governor's strategy is decidedly different from most mainstream candidates. Her media savvy has led her to put money into high-profile races: backing Nikki Haley in South Carolina, for instance, and pal John McCain and Rubio. Curiously, she has split her money between incumbents and challengers. But strategists caution that you can't measure Palin simply by the way she spends. A woman who can dominate cable-news cycles with a simple Facebook post can clearly win grassroots support without having to open her checkbook.

Tim Pawlenty

How much he's raised

$2,570,308

Where he's spent it

$108,906 on mostly eastern and Midwestern senate races

What this means

The Minnesota governor, who isn't running for reelection this year, has been able to raise a relatively impressive amount of money. But he's still well behind Romney. ("Remember, he still has a day job to do," says an aide.) For now, he's hedging his bets, donating to both Tea Party sweetheart Michele Bachmann and the more centrist Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Pawlenty set up a state-level PAC in Iowa early this year to support local and state races, then another one in New Hampshire. In just the past month, according to both organizations, he's raised about $30,000 for each.

Haley Barbour

How much he's raised

$580,152

Where he's spent it

$62,500 on a handful of mostly southern and western races

What this means

Barbour, the Southern backslapper and former lobbyist who has been governor of Mississippi since 2005, has allies everywhere, especially in the South. …

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