Republican Mitt Romney has spent more money, $52 million, and aired more television ads than any other candidate in his quest to become president, a survey and campaign finance reports released yesterday show.
Still, national polls show Romney lagging behind former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in the race for the Republican nomination.
According to reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission, Romney has amassed more than $61 million - counting the $17.35 million he has lent his campaign. He ended the third quarter of 2007 with $9.2 million in the bank, compared with $16 million for Giuliani, who has collected $47.2 million overall, the FEC reports show.
Those cash-on-hand totals paled in comparison to the leading Democratic candidates: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the party's front-runner, reported having $50 million in the bank and raising $80 million. Her closest rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, had $36 million left of the $78 million he has raised.
Clinton led the money race despite having to contend with a scandal involving one of her top fundraisers, Norman Hsu. He is in jail in California on a 15-year-old state grand theft charge and faces federal investigations into his financial dealings and fundraising activities.
Clinton's campaign recently announced that it was returning more than $800,000 that Hsu had raised from about 250 people.
Giuliani also disclosed that he had given some money back: Seven donations, each in the amount of $9.11, and one for $911. A supporter sent an e-mail message seeking the $9.11 donations in commemoration of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Giuliani's aides denounced the gimmick.
Giuliani has relied on Wall Street for much of the money he has raised. Of the $11.4 million he brought in during the third quarter, $3.2 million came from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who entered the Republican race in September, disclosed yesterday that he has $7.1 million in the bank, after raising $12.8 million in the past four months.
Thompson, who is among the top GOP candidates in national polls, raised twice as much money as Giuliani in Southern states, long a major source of Republican votes. Thompson's more than $6 million from those states accounted for nearly half his total. Thompson received $2.7 million from his home state.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, whose campaign is flagging, raised $5.7 million in the third quarter, had $3.5 million on hand and $1.7 million in debt.
The campaigns' financial disclosure reports for the quarter ending Sept. 30 were the last they must file before voting begins in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Traditionally, the most costly aspect of any campaign is television advertising. According to a survey released yesterday by Nielsen Monitor-Plus, Democrats have aired nearly 16,700 spots this year, compared with 12,050 by Republicans. About 71 percent of the candidate ads have aired in Iowa, underscoring the state's importance.
Among the Democrats, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson - who is trailing in polls and in the money race, with $5.8 million in the bank - has aired more ads than his presidential rivals. Nearly all of his 5,975 spots have aired in Iowa.
Obama aired 4,300 spots, the second-highest number among Democrats. Clinton's total was half that.
Romney's dominance of the airwaves - he accounted for nearly 11,000 of the GOP spots that ran Jan. 1- Oct. 10 - has vaulted him into serious contention in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that will kick off 2008 balloting.
"The early ads worked in the sense that it got his [poll] numbers up and got him name recognition in the absence of anyone else on the airwaves," said Dante Scala, a professor at the University of New Hampshire. "Now the campaign is looking for some traction, frankly, for the next boost."
Dan Morain and Mark Z. Barabak write for the Los Angeles Times.