Mitt Romney might go down in history as the presidential candidate who spent more of his personal income than any other in his pursuit to win the White House. It is estimated that he already has used $35 million of his roughly $250 million personal fortune. And if Mitt makes the cut to be the Republican nominee, during the next 10 months, he surely will surpass Ross Perot's $60 million infusion into his own 1992 candidacy. To me, such excessive self-financing of one's campaign is not only a competitive injustice that rivals the use of steroids by athletes but also a fundamental flaw in the general race for president, which requires better campaign finance reform.
Last Wednesday, Romney conveyed that his campaign was not trying to purchase television advertisement on Super Tuesday, when 20-plus states hold simultaneous nominating contests. Then he flip-flopped (again) the very next day, telling reporters, "I have authorized a seven-figure -- I won't give you the exact number -- but seven-figure advertising buy for our campaign."
As one news agency put it, "One of Romney's greatest campaign strengths has been his deep pockets. A wealthy former businessman who has largely financed his own campaign."
The BBC described that Mitt "may be the only Republican candidate who can afford to buy advertising in major media markets ahead of Tuesday's poll."
On the other hand, John McCain finished 2007 with $3 million in campaign monies and a $4.5 million debt, according to Federal Election Commission records. We just learned he was so strapped for cash at the end of last quarter that he had to take out a special life insurance policy as a guarantee for payback of his debt.
McCain's financial consultant said, "I can't imagine any other campaign doing what he did. We were down to nobody. To nothing."
The campaign question is: Does Mitt's personal financing or McCain's personal debt reflect the type of fiscal leadership we want in the White House? One avenue demonstrates that the White House can be bought, and the other mirrors a same-old political approach to getting things done: borrowing.
As I echoed in last week's column, GOP candidate and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee is the only presidential hopeful who is not spending recklessly or rashly.