Mitt Romney is relying increasingly on his own bank account to fund his presidential campaign, announcing yesterday that he chipped in almost as much money during the summer as his supporters did.
The former governor wrote himself an $8.5 million check in the third quarter and raised an additional $10 million from contributors, his campaign said. That brings to $17.4 million the amount Romney has loaned his campaign since launching his White House bid in January - 28 percent of the $62.4 million he has banked.
"I am going to contribute to my campaign, but my campaign is not entirely being financed by my own resources," he said during a campaign stop yesterday in Derry, N.H., adding that he could not expect others to give if he did not give himself. "The campaign is being financed primarily through the donations of others."
Romney's campaign said that it added 23,000 donors during July, August, and September, and that its $10 million in donations put the candidate only slightly behind former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who yesterday reported raising $11 million for the quarter, $10.5 million of it for the primary. Romney, who is raising money only for the primary, is still the top GOP fund-raiser overall for that race.
As for other leading Republican candidates, former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson said yesterday he raised $9.3 million last quarter, his first in the race, while Senator John McCain of Arizona announced he took in $6 million, all but about $450,000 for the primary.
The third-quarter finance figures from candidates of both parties show a continued fund-raising dominance by Democrats. Senator Hillary Clinton of New York collected nearly as much, $27 million, as the three leading Republicans combined. That figure, however, also includes money she raised for the general election.
Since telling reporters in January that having to tap his personal fortune - he is worth between $190 million and $250 million - for the campaign would be "akin to a nightmare," Romney has written $15 million in checks. At the time of his "nightmare" comment, he had already loaned $2.4 million.
The $10 million Romney raised from contributors represents a drop-off from the first two quarters, when he raised $21 million and $14 million, respectively. But presidential candidates tend to spend more time at political events and less time actively fund-raising as the year goes on, and contributions typically slow during the summer. Romney's campaign said he focused more on political work during the last three months, noting that he won the Ames, Iowa, straw poll in August and held 66 of his "Ask Mitt Anything" forums.
"Governor Romney has built a nationwide network of volunteers and supporters that are energizing our efforts as we work towards the first votes being cast in January," spokesman Kevin Madden said in a statement.
The money Romney has loaned his campaign has allowed him to build that network, which aides say has been necessary to get him better known around the country, and to invest heavily in early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, where he leads in the polls. He has paid about $8 million for TV ads and has run more than 10,000 of them, the vast majority in Iowa and New Hampshire. In the last month, he has spent about $1 million on TV spots in South Carolina, where he was the only GOP candidate to buy television time. .
But his front-runner status in Iowa and New Hampshire has also made him a target of political opponents.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP organization whose support Romney courted in past runs for office, launched a 30-second TV ad on Fox News Channel yesterday highlighting his more liberal social positions of the past, including his support for abortion rights, gay rights, and gun control.
The group, which turned against Romney after he became an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, charges him in the ad with having a "pro-choice record" and "Massachusetts values."
"For years, he's fought conservatives and religious extremists," the narrator says. The ad also includes clips from his 1994 Senate race debate with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in which he said that abortion "should be safe and legal in this country."
Madden responded in a statement: "As Governor Romney has repeatedly made clear, like many other Republicans, including Ronald Reagan, he wasn't always pro-life. Governor Romney has said he was wrong and hopes he never stops learning from his mistakes or trying to do what's right."
Detailed information about Romney's campaign finances will be available after Oct. 15, the deadline for all candidates to submit reports to the Federal Election Commission.
Romney's campaign said it ended last month with $9 million in the bank.
Giuliani's reported having $16 million in the bank and touted the fact that it has now led the GOP field in fund-raising in two straight quarters.
"We're receiving real support from across the country because voters know Rudy Giuliani is the only candidate who has proven leadership, executive experience, and can beat the Democrats in November," Giuliani's campaign manager, Michael DuHaime, said in a statement.
McCain's campaign, which has not raised nearly as much money this year as it once hoped, reported having $3.6 million in the bank and said it was "now on sound financial footing."
Globe correspondent James W. Pindell contributed to this report; Scott Helman can be reached at email@example.com.