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Mitt Romney Burning Through The Cash He's Raising

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ROMNEY BURN RATE
AP

WASHINGTON -- Governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign raised a more-than-respectable $14.2 million dollars during the third quarter fundraising period, his campaign revealed in filings with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

But the Republican presidential frontrunner spent all but $1.94 million of that total during the same period, despite having a limited presence in the first-in-the nation caucus state of Iowa and not having aired a single television advertisement to date.

Between July 1 and September 30, Romney for President Inc. wrote checks totaling more than $12.28 million on a variety of campaign related functions. That's the equivalent of spending 86 cents of every dollar brought in. An examination of the fundraising documents submitted shows that payments to staff totalled $1.328 million during the third quarter period, while $247,253 was spent on renting office space. More than $860,000 was paid to FLS Connect, LLC for data management services, meanwhile, and $805,000 went to American Rambler Productions for media purposes.

The Romney campaign spent $510,000 on travel expenses, including airfare, hotels, car rentals, and food. The biggest expenses went to private jet companies, including $135,083 to Marquis Jet Partners and $86,516 to SkyShoe II.

Even flashier expenditures included $15,000 spent at the Harvard Club, $13,745 on campaign promotional items from Vineyard Vines and an additional $5,759 on similar items from LL Bean.

Romney also spent $809.75 on travel expenses for what the campaign lists as "Sullivan Alavardo" of Austin, Texas. Sullivan and Alvarado are the names of two fundraisers who abandoned Texas Governor Rick Perry after his re-election primary in 2010.

"It takes money to raise it," Romney's top spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom told The Huffington Post, speaking broadly and not specifically referencing the travel expenses for Sullivan and Alvarado. "In the last six months, we’ve raised $32 million in primary dollars alone -– which is more than the entire GOP field. We’re very proud of the number we have and we will have enough money to be competitive in the upcoming primaries and caucuses."

Despite spending heavily in the third quarter, Romney continues to sit, as Fehrnstrom notes, on a pile of money. Owing to earlier fundraising success, his campaign has a net total of $14,656,965 cash on hand. A number of outside groups also appear poised to fill Romney's cash needs should fundraising dry up.

But that doesn't necessarily make his rate of expenditures, or "burn rate," insignificant. Money on hand doesn't necessarily guarantee a successful campaign -- see Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the early stages of the 2008 primary -- but lack of it can create major complications.

Elsewhere on Friday, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's campaign reported that he was nearly broke, having finished the third quarter period with $327,000 in the bank and $890,000 in debt, according to CNN. Financial disclosure reports reveal that Huntsman loaned his campaign $2,249,481 of his own money.

Meanwhile, The Huffington Post reported that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's defunct presidential campaign was roughly $400,000 in debt, which hastened his exit from the race in August.

A close examination of Romney's expenditures also provides a small window into his campaign strategy. The Massachusetts Republican is heavily prioritizing the early primary and caucus states. While the campaign spent $2.73 million in New Hampshire, most of that, $2.6 million, went to SCM Associates, a Republican fundraising and direct mail firm that just so happens to be located in the state. The campaign also spent more there on direct campaign-related activities, $130,564, than it did anywhere else. Romney is cruising in the polls in New Hampshire.

In Iowa, the Romney campaign spent $158,727 with the majority going to the direct mail firm RedWave Communications, also not a state specific group. The campaign spent only $49,000 on actual campaign-related activities in Iowa.

The Romney camp has invested slightly more in South Carolina, which is usually viewed as a firewall primary state for establishment candidates in Republican primaries. Romney spent $61,719 in South Carolina during the third quarter.

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