LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- There are dual and somewhat contradictory expectations heading into Saturday evening's Nevada caucus. One is that Mitt Romney will win and win comfortably. The second is that Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul will soldier on even after the drubbing.
Like many of the upcoming states, Nevada will award its delegates proportionally. It's a feature that has effectively invited the rest of the Republican candidates to remain in the race. And it's also starting to prompt some Romney backers to worry about the literal costs of a prolonged primary.
In an interview with The Huffington Post on Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) argued the merits for having his candidate of choice –- Romney, the former Massachusetts governor -- continuing to campaign. But he also openly worried about the price tag that will come with a drawn-out process, noting that dollars spent in a primary contest would be better spent on a general election campaign against President Barack Obama.
"There is no question there will be a huge dollar imbalance" heading into the general election, said Issa, in Las Vegas to help and support the Romney campaign. "But the reverse happened to [John] Kerry. George W. Bush wasn't challenged and Kerry didn't get a coronation right away. So, it is our system."
Romney has been raising money for the general election alongside primary funds since he started his campaign. But he does face a fundraising challenge that is less of an issue for Obama: a reliance on big donors who, once they're tapped out, can't give again. The super PACs supporting Romney, primarily Restore Our Future, are the great crutch for his campaign, giving wealthy patrons a pro-Romney vehicle in which to deposit unlimited checks.
"I would prefer that the dollar question start going the right way, and I would like to see the super PACs end their shooting at each other," Issa said, seemingly calling for an end to Republican infighting.
While Issa may be concerned that super PAC money is being wasted on attacks against fellow Republicans -- so far, Restore our Future has spent just under $17 million going after Gingrich -- it seems unlikely that those funds won't be replenished once the primary battle turns into a general election contest.