Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and allied party committees raised more than $170 million in September in a fundraising haul praised by real-estate mogul Donald Trump as “big numbers.”
It was a “killer” month, said New York Jets owner Woody Johnson. Both men commented as they filed into a Romney gala last night in New York City intended to thank contributors and fundraisers.
The campaign is treating its financial team to three days of events, including a presidential debate-watching party tonight at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where many of them are staying. Last night’s dinner, also attended by Romney’s brother Scott and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
While Romney’s fundraising total was shy of the $181 million President Barack Obama and allied Democratic committees reported last month, it was the largest one-month total for the challenger and the Republicans. Until August, they had combined to outraise Obama and the Democrats for three straight months.
“Our numbers were superb; it was higher than I expected,” said Romney fundraiser Wayne Berman, a lobbyist for Blackstone Group LP. “We were only a little bit behind the president, so I thought it was excellent.” He attributed the gains to “a huge amount of enthusiasm.”
Trump, as he walked through the rain toward the event, called Romney “a great candidate.” The former Massachusetts governor is tapping into donor excitement because “everybody is so unhappy with the way the country is going right now,” Trump said, as he and his wife, Melania, entered the museum, which was closed to the media.
Romney’s September totals were announced on the first day of the donor event, which follows a June retreat in Park City, Utah.
Johnson, New York finance chairman of the Romney campaign, said the idea “is just to thank everybody, to bring everybody up to speed in terms of what’s going on.”
In the Waldorf lobby, “signature” items -- such as Romney cuff links, clocks and wooden chairs -- were available for purchase. A schedule of events, posted on the Internet by Politico, shows that donors and members of the finance team are to be briefed today on strategy, “issues facing America” and “the final three weeks” of the campaign. A debate-watching party for donors is slated for tonight in a hotel ballroom, and contributors have a farewell breakfast the next morning.
Romney and the Republicans had $191 million in the bank as of Sept. 30, the campaign reported. Obama’s campaign didn’t release a cash-on-hand figure. September reports from the campaigns are due to the Federal Election Commission by Oct. 20.
Employees at financial firms such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co. again were among the top donors to Romney’s joint fundraising committee, called Romney Victory. This time, they were joined by executives at Nascar who, along with racing team owners, pumped in more than $330,000 to help Romney’s White House bid.
In February, during the race for the Republican nomination, Romney said that “some great friends” of his were Nascar team owners.
Brian France, Nascar chief executive officer, gave $75,800; former Nascar driver Richard Childress, who now owns Richard Childress Motorsports, gave $72,500; and Mike Helton, Nascar’s president, gave $50,000. France, Helton and Childress were among those at an August fundraiser in Charlotte, North Carolina, that brought in $1.5 million for the Republican cause.
As separate entities, Obama’s re-election committee has outraised Romney’s campaign every month this year. Through Aug. 31 -- the latest figures available -- Obama brought in $441.3 million and had $88.8 million to spend leading up to the Nov. 6 election. That compares with $283.6 million that Romney raised and a bank account balance of $50.4 million.
Romney’s joint fundraising committee reported to the FEC yesterday that it had taken in $235 million over the last three months and funneled $201 million to the Romney campaign and Republican Party committees.
Many of the donations and transfers have previously been reported in monthly filings by Romney and the Republican National Committee. The fundraising committee sent $6 million apiece to the fundraising arms for Senate and House Republicans.
As he entered the museum last night, Spencer Zwick, Romney’s finance chairman, said he thought supporters would be “delighted” by the September numbers.
Johnson was more measured. Asked if he was pleased the Romney campaign is hitting or exceeding its money targets, he said, “I’m a fundraiser. I’m never happy.”