During the summer, the Romney campaign said it could not match the Obama campaign’s ad spending because Romney’s coffers had been depleted in a tough primary fight and campaign finance laws forbade Romney from spending money raised for the general election before accepting the Republican nomination at the party convention in Tampa.
As fall began, the Romney campaign explained that Romney appeared at relatively few public events — perhaps one rally or town hall a day — because he had to devote a large amount of time to fundraising. That was necessary, aides explained, because President Obama blew up the system of publicly finance campaigns, forcing Romney to devote precious time and resources to fundraising.
In a September 24 conference call with reporters, Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said, “He’s been doing a lot of events per day, but a lot of them are fundraising events. Gov. Romney is the first Republican to run outside the finance system…We’re going to reach a point here, hopefully soon, when we have the resources we need to carry us through November 6…We are looking forward to that moment in time.”
Now, it’s October, and that moment is apparently not here yet. In an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio program Monday, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan pointed to a lack of money as the reason the Romney-Ryan campaign is trailing the president in some key issue areas. “Why do you think that on the tax issues, and on the handling the economy issue, that Romney-Ryan trail Obama-Biden?” Ingraham asked. “What is it in the messaging, or is it the coverage, that isn’t connecting?”
“When you’re outspent massively on TV with absolutely false and misleading ads by your political adversaries who are suggesting that this somehow raises people’s taxes, it clutters and confuses,” Ryan answered. “We are entering the debate phase of this campaign. We are entering the choice phase of this campaign. And we are making it crystal clear to people that all these falsehoods that are coming out of the Obama campaign about our tax policy, about our Medicare reform and everything else, are just that.”
“But are you guys going to release big ads?” Ingraham asked. “I mean, where are the ads? I thought you guys had this huge war chest. We’re now being massively outspent in ads?”
“They have more money for TV,” Ryan said. “That’s very clear. Everybody knows that. They’re even outspending us three-to-one in Ohio recently, and we’re still in the hunt, in a very close race.”
The Romney-Ryan plea of poverty strike some Republicans as baffling. The campaign and associated organizations actually outraised the Obama campaign and its organizations through much of the summer. In August, Obama outraised Romney, but only by a small amount. In addition, the Romney campaign operates more efficiently, with fewer employees, than Team Obama. Yet money is a major concern in the final weeks of the campaign.
“I don’t understand it,” says former House Speaker, and former Romney rival, Newt Gingrich. “Everything I thought up until about August 1 was that the Republicans were going to outspend the Democrats. I don’t understand what is going on.”