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.