Although most numbers are looking pretty good for Newt Gingrich, including a decisive poll lead in Iowa and promising early indications in South Carolina, there's one set of figures that still favors Mitt Romney: fund-raising. Through the end of September, the Romney campaign had raised more than $32 million, while Gingrich had scraped together less than $2.9 million, and was more than $1 million in debt. Gingrich's late surge has brought in $4 million since, but Romney is still sitting pretty, especially among the 0.01 percent — 42 billionaires have contributed to his campaign.
That's more than even Barack Obama, who has about 30 billionaire supporters, according to a report in the Washington Post. Rick Perry has 20, John Huntsman has 12, and Gingrich is still in single digits.
"We don't have to pay for consultants, we don't need speechwriters — the candidate knows what he's going to say," Gingrich's spokesman contends in the New York Times today. "Campaigns do cost money," he added. "We're probably the most frugal campaign of modern times." It's Gingrich's job to publicly make that frugality look like more than a necessity, and like it's not too late to adjust. He's ramping things up now, spending the day in Manhattan yesterday, with stops including a fund-raiser at the Union League Club and an appearance at the moneyed "Monday Meeting" conservative gathering at the Grand Hyatt.
"He's an old master at it, and he ought to be successful, because he's now center-stage," said top Republican rich guy Alfred Hoffman Jr., a real estate developer. "But it's not just a question of how he can do it all in a month. It's a question of how much he can spend in Iowa in a month."
The really big money is especially important in the "super PAC" game, in which unlimited donations can be given, making billionaires more valuable. Hedge-funder John Paulson has donated $1 million to the Romney PAC Restore Our Future, while Gingrich's Solutions 2012 PAC is just getting going.
Obama, though, in still leading overall: Through September, he had amassed $157 million for himself and his party. When it comes to catching up, Romney is well on his way — it's Gingrich who needs to hurry.