Signs of financial strain showing up for Romney

Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The long and increasingly messy Republican presidential contest is starting to hit Mitt Romney where it hurts most: his wallet.

New signs of financial stress are emerging in Romney's campaign, which has built a wide lead in delegates thanks in part to the might of his bank account and multistate operation.

As rival Rick Santorum's surprising strength keeps extending the nomination battle, Romney has scaled back expenses, trimmed field staff in some cases and begun to count more on free media coverage to reach voters. And he's still relying on an allied super political action committee to supplement his spending on expensive TV ads.

This week, the former Massachusetts governor was forced to spend two days privately courting donors in the New York area, even as his Republican rivals were wooing voters ahead of pivotal elections in places like Illinois, where he hasn't been in four months, and as President Barack Obama was stockpiling cash for the fall general election fight.

On Wednesday, Romney had five finance events in New York, all packed, raising about $3 million, with more set for Thursday. So the news is hardly all bad.

But after his two days of fundraising in New York, Romney arrives in Puerto Rico today, in advance of Sunday's primary, without any finance events scheduled.

It's less encouraging for the campaign that the money is badly needed to refill coffers that had sunk close to their lowest levels since Romney launched his presidential effort last year.

It's unclear if the former financial executive will tap his own personal wealth, estimated between $190 million and $250 million.

Paul might not support Romney

Texas Rep. Ron Paul isn't ready to commit to Mitt Romney if Romney becomes the party's nominee for president. The antiwar candidate says he needs more information on Romney's foreign policy to make that decision. Paul was campaigning in Missouri, part of this strategy to concentrate on caucus states, ahead of Saturday's contest.

Rick Santorum: A day after telling a San Juan newspaper Puerto Rico would have to adopt English as its main language to become a state, Rick Santorum insists his remarks were misreported. Nonetheless, the stand has already cost him some support. One statehood backer who had signed on as a Santorum delegate, Orestes Ramos, dropped his support for the former Pennsylvania senator because of the comments. Puerto Ricans vote Nov. 6 to decide on statehood, independence or no change in political status.

Newt Gingrich: Newt Gingrich is still fighting for the Republican presidential nomination, invoking the Bible and Abraham Lincoln as he pushes the idea that America badly needs "a visionary conservative." Vowing to stay in the race, Gingrich said his campaign is having a "halftime resetting of the game plan," and he plans to talk more about "big ideas" involving space, brain science, energy and other topics.

Times wires

Signs of financial strain showing up for Romney 03/15/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 16, 2012 12:00am]

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