At the end of his 2008 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney barnstormed the country, sometimes flying from the East Coast to the West Coast and back in a single day, most often on a chartered Boeing 737 jet.
Some of those accompanying him on that journey were struck by an inescapable thought: Romney was paying for a big chunk of it out of his own pocket.
Sure, the reporters aboard paid for their hotels, buses, filing centers, and share of the aircraft expense, including frequent Panera takeout for in-flight meals. And, sure, the former businessman also raised $60 million from outsiders for his first White House bid.
But the rest of the campaign bill for Romney and his staff was paid with the $45 million he gave to his own effort. His personal fortune not only primed the pump, but continued to flow through the spigot until he quit after his Super Tuesday primary losses.
Not this time around.
In May, Romney and his wife each gave $75,000 to the Romney Victory Fund, the joint fund-raising account for the Romney campaign, the Republican National Committee, and several state political parties. The $150,000 total is the same any other couple could have given, were they to have that kind of disposable income.
But today, Romney has a strong chance of winning the White House without drawing any more from the multimillion-dollar fortune he amassed before getting into politics.
It is one indicator of his growth as a candidate and a campaign leader.
All told, the Romney committee and its affiliates have raised $951 million for his campaign, including $112 million during the first half of this month. That is more than double what Romney personally contributed during the entirety of his unsuccessful 2008 campaign.
It also exceeds the $91 million President Obama raised between Oct. 1 and Oct. 17, although the Democratic incumbent still leads his Republican challenger with $1.1 billion raised overall.
New Hampshire Republican activist Tom Rath, a Romney supporter in both campaigns, said the numbers are testament to the work the former Massachusetts governor did after losing his 2008 bid.
“He went out and raised money and campaigned for anybody who asked,” said Rath. “Suddenly, instead of a kind of small coterie of people who knew him, he had a much broader network of people out there who could reach out to their own network and say, ‘Hey, this is a good guy and you should back him.’ ”
So, was the money well invested?
“It will be if we win,” Rath said with a chuckle.
Reflections on spin duty
Governor Deval Patrick made it to the second of the three debates between Romney and Obama, but he said his visit to the spin room at Hofstra University a couple of weeks ago actually had a junior-high feel to it.
“It feels like a middle-school dance,” he said last week during his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM. “You go out and feel a little bit like a jerk while you’re wondering if anybody’s going to talk to you, and then somebody comes and talks to you, and then you say what you have to say, and then they leave, and then you feel a little foolish about what you just said.”
That may be, but it’s certainly not the worst form of rejection a politician can experience.
As Patrick did his bit on behalf of the president, former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey stood about 30 feet away, offering her own pro-Romney take. She suffered the worst form of political rejection when she lost the 2006 gubernatorial race to Patrick.
Sports blends with politics
Patrick’s longtime political spokesman, Alex Goldstein, has branched beyond politics to sports.
He started a team that just completed its first season in the New England Rugby Football Union, which has some players on the US national team.
Along the way, the Boston Maccabi Rugby Football Club compiled an undefeated record that qualified it for the divisional championship series.
The team blends Goldstein’s interests in sports, the Jewish community, and community service. About half of its 35 members are Jewish like Goldstein, and they not only play rugby but volunteer at Rosie’s Place and Cradles to Crayons, and raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, among causes.
“My professional life has been exceptionally gratifying, but outside my work for Governor Patrick, this has been the most satisfying thing I have done,” Goldstein said.