Sadly, Mitt Romney’s staff members have cut way back on the use of his gubernatorial-campaign credit card, which had made it easy for us to track their cross-country sojourns. (See “Romney Watch,” This Just In, April 5.) But fear not: this doesn’t mean he has been stuck in the Bay State. In just the past eight weeks, the Barnstormin’ Mormon has been spotted in California; Arizona; Colorado; Iowa; Illinois; Michigan; Kentucky; Florida; New York; Washington, DC; Italy; and Guantánamo. He hits Wisconsin and Washington State this coming weekend.
Much of the travel tab has been picked up by the so-called 527 political committee of the Republican Governors Association, of which Romney became chair in December.
That RGA fund took in a hefty $6.5 million in contributions in the first three months of 2006 — its best pace since its creation in 2002. The fund draws mostly from corporations, but under Romney it has already picked up more than a million bucks from individuals.
Leading the way are four members of the right wing’s million-dollar-donor club (see “The GOP Empire Strikes Back,” News and Features, October 9, 2004): Univision chair A. Jerrold Perenchio, American Financial Group chair Carl Lindner, Texas developer and Swift Boat bankroller Bob Perry, and Ameriquest co-founder and Deval Patrick albatross Dawn Arnall. The four combined to give $650,000 to the RGA’s 527 coffers in the first quarter of 2006 — more than it cost to replace the half-million from convicted Jack Abramoff co-conspirator Michael Scanlon that Romney decided to donate to the American Red Cross.
Romney is also starting to use Commonwealth PAC, his “leadership” political-action committee, which spent about $5000 on airfare and hotels in early ’06. (Its Web site — thecommonwealthpac.com — is finally up.)
The Romney for Governor Committee has done some spending too — including on two $65 “gifts for supporters” from online logo-laden knickknacks outlet Cafepress.com. Presumably, these weren’t chosen from among the anti-Romney swag previously featured in these pages (see “Product Placement,” This Just In, June 3, 2005). But there are now plenty of pro-Romney designs available there, on everything from mouse pads to teddy bears. Among them: “Ohioans for Mitt,” “Tennesseans for Mitt,” “Mitt ’08,” “Mitt Happens,” “Americans for Mitt,” “Romney: Yankee Governor, Southern Values,” “I’m sMITTen,” “Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Pro-Romney,” and “The Mitt has hit the fan.” Although the more apt phrase, as usual, is “The Mitt has hit the road.”