Campaign fund documents show that Mitt Romney is far more dependent on very wealthy donors than any other presidential candidate, making him even more vulnerable to accusations that he's too close to the rich.
The former Massachusetts governor has raised just 9% of his campaign funds from small donors - contributions of $200 or less, an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics has revealed.
And that doesn't include money given to the Romney-friendly super PACs, which have collected many more millions from the very rich. About 98% of the donations to the Restore Our Future super PAC were over $25,000.
All of Romney's Republican opponents have raised a much greater portion of their campaign money from small donors. Roughly one-third of Rick Santorum's funds came from small donors in 2011; for Newt Gingrich, the amount was about half; and for Ron Paul, the figure was 52%.
And so far, about 47% of President Barack Obama's campaign funds have come from small donors.
The surge of donations from the wealthy has put Romney far ahead of all of his GOP rivals in terms of total dollars raised as well. He brought in $56.5 million in 2011, compared to Paul's $26 million, Gingrich's $12.6 million and Santorum's $2.2 million.
That advantage, combined with the $18 million raised by Restore Our Future, helped pay for the barrage of television ads in Florida that turned a comfortable Gingrich lead into a 15-point Romney victory in less than 10 days.
In essence, rich donors bought the Florida primary for Romney.And when voters learn more about who exactly is funding the Romney campaign, they'll be even less pleased. Yesterday's (Wednesday) disclosure of many of the donors to Restore Our Future included plenty of names that could prove unpopular with the American public.
The list of those who made large contributions to Restore Our Future include former associates from Bain Capital, hedge fund managers - including John Paulson - and senior executives from Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS).
When added to Romney's well-publicized personal wealth, low tax rates and history overseeing leveraged buyouts at Bain Capital, the sources of his campaign funds has created a narrative increasingly difficult to defend.
And Romney isn't helping his case. Just yesterday he added another thread to the story while speaking on CNN.
"I'm not concerned about the very poor," Romney said. "We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich. They're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95% of Americans who are struggling."
Opponents seized upon the first sentence.
Although the Florida primary victory has made Romney the presumptive Republican nominee, his apparent allegiance to the rich will make him vulnerable to Democratic attacks in the fall.
With his frequent calls for "fairness" and taxes on millionaires and billionaires, President Obama has already laid the groundwork for an opponent that can easily be painted as beholden to the rich.
And having raised $125 million in campaign funds already, President Obama will have plenty of money - and material - for ads depicting Romney as a millionaire out of touch with the middle class.
"Mitt Romney has given the Obama team so many buzzwords," said Joe Scarborough on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Monday. "Swissbankaccount, Cayman Islands, "I like firing people,' 14 percent, "let the market bottom out,' pink slips, "I know what it's like to be unemployed.' You could go on and on. He has set himself up for a November killing."
News and Related Story Links:
- Money Morning:
How Super PACs Are Choosing Your Next President
- Money Morning:
How Bain Capital Could Sink Mitt Romney
- Money Morning:
Wealthy Congressmen Don't Feel Your Pain
- Money Morning:
The Debt Ceiling Debate: Will the Democrats' Gambit Lead to a Victory in the 2012 Election?
- The Washington Post:
Romney barrels out of Florida with momentum and money, says GOP fight strengthens him for fall
- Center for Responsive Politics:
Newest Campaign Reports Show Ramped-Up Chase for Cash
- The New York Times:
Who's Financing the "Super PACs'
Records show how wealthy shape presidential race
About the Author
David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.
Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.