Romney's campaign down to $7.7 million cash on hand

Proof that he’s sputtering or much ado about nothing given the realities of modern campaign finance? He had $19 million in the bank at the end of December and raised another $6.5 million on top of that in January. (By comparison, back in January 2008, The One raised $36 million. Obvious difference, though: The economy was vastly better then.) Fast forward a month and there’s only $7.7 million left, which means his cash flow right now is completely unsustainable unless he either (a) discovers a brand new supply of wealthy donors to tap very quickly or (b) starts funding his own campaign with the vast Romney fortune, which seems increasingly likely. His strategy last month, presumably, was to spend whatever he needed to spend in hopes of crushing Gingrich and Santorum in the early states and locking up the nomination early. He almost succeeded, too: He won big in New Hampshire and then snuffed Newt’s momentum in Florida, which in most cycles would have decided the race. If only he’d spent a bit more on the “meaningless” contests in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota, he might have snuffed Santorum once and for all and finally broken the base’s spirit in hoping for a Not Romney to emerge. Too late now, and the money’s running out with Super Tuesday just two weeks away.

As I say, though, does it matter? Revisit this post from last week about whether Mitt’s running out of dough. His campaign might be straining because rich donors are capped on how much they can contribute, but there’s no cap on giving to the Super PAC. It raised $6.6 million in January and is sitting on $16 million in cash on hand — thanks, of course, to some very wealthy Romney fans:

The pro-Romney group began February with about seven times as much in the bank as a super-PAC supporting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Winning Our Future, which had $2.4 million left to spend as February began. Almost all of its $11 million in donations last month came from billionaire casino executive Sheldon Adelson and his wife, who gave $5 million each, and Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, who donated $500,000.

The super-PAC backing Romney raised most of its money, $5.8 million, from 40 donors who gave at least $50,000 each, according to a filing submitted today by the group to the Federal Election Commission. Bruce Kovner, co-founder of the New York-based hedge fund Caxton Associates LP, and two other people gave $500,000 each.

His Super PAC spent $13.5 million last month, which means the entire Romney 2012 operation dropped a cool $32 million on the race in January alone. And yet here they are, eight days before Michigan and Arizona, scrambling to avert a catastrophic Santorum sweep. The good news for Romney fans is that he only needs a handful of wealthy buddies to help keep the death star in orbit and firing negative ads. The bad news is that if he loses next Tuesday and then underperforms on Super Tuesday, he might run out of wealthy buddies soon too. In fact, even his wealthy buddies are struggling to keep up the pace: According to the WSJ’s Neil King, Romney’s campaign and Super PAC combined raised only $1 million more last month than McCain’s campaign alone did in January 2008.

There’s only one man who can save Mitt now, my friends:

With just over a week to go before Michigan voters head to the polls, Mitt Romney is enlisting the help of one of his highest-wattage surrogates: Donald Trump.

The real estate mogul is preparing to spread his pro-Romney, anti-Rick Santorum message in a series of radio interviews this week on local stations from Traverse City to Detroit…

On Tuesday he will call into the “Ron Jolly Show” on WTCM in Traverse City. On Wednesday it’s the “Paul Smith Show” on WJR in Detroit. And on Thursday, Trump will talk to Michael Patrick Shiels, host of a drive-time radio program on WJIM in Lansing.

Via Breitbart TV, listen below to Trump dumping all over Santorum on WSGW in Michigan this morning. A quote from the same interview not captured in the clip: “Obviously if [Romney] wins, I’m not running. If he doesn’t — and I hope that doesn’t happen — I would say that there’s a good possibility that I would do something, yes.” So there’s Mitt’s new best friend hinting that he’ll kneecap the GOP in the fall if his guy isn’t the nominee. Ed wondered this morning why Romney would want a billionaire known for the catchphrase “you’re fired” helping his retail effort in a blue-collar state like Michigan. The answer, I think, is that Trump actually does hold some appeal for the working class, or at least he does by the usual standards of the Romney campaign. Where Mitt seems aloof and awkward, the supposed country-club Republican who can’t relate to average people, Trump is colorful and familiar. Between his accent, his populist pandering, and his over-the-top tough-talking alpha-male charm in flaunting his wealth, he acts like a guy who came from a blue-collar background and succeeded through sheer balls alone. (He didn’t.) Team Mitt is trying to leverage that appeal plus the perception among some of Trump’s fans that he has the midas touch. (Also untrue.) If a businessman as successful as The Donald is willing to invest his political capital heavily in Romney, there must be something valuable that he sees in President Mitt, right?

Exit question: Speaking of awkward surrogates, can someone let Romney know that he shouldn’t rip Santorum for voting to raise the debt ceiling while standing next to a supporter who voted to raise the debt ceiling?

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