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Romney camp says fund-raising is down

‘This is going to be a titanic struggle,’ said David Axelrod, an Obama campaign strategist, talking about the 2012 election. ‘This is going to be a titanic struggle,’ said David Axelrod, an Obama campaign strategist, talking about the 2012 election.
By Shira Schoenberg and Matt Viser
Globe Staff / September 28, 2011

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WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney’s campaign aides estimate that they will raise much less this fund-raising quarter than his $18.2 million haul in the previous three months.

Aides contend that Romney’s top rival - Texas Governor Rick Perry - will raise more than he will, even though Perry has been in the race for only six weeks. The fund-raising quarter doesn’t end until Friday and campaigns don’t have to file their reports until Oct. 15 but already they are playing an expectations game over the figures.

“We are going to raise considerably less than what we did in our first reporting period, but we will still meet our finance goals for this quarter,’’ said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Rick Perry is a brand new candidate raising primary and general election dollars, and as the governor of a large state and former [Republican Governors Association] chair we suspect he will lead the Republican field in fund-raising for this quarter.’’

Not to be outplayed on downplaying their expectations, Perry’s campaign offered its own sober assessment.

“Mitt Romney’s fund-raising machine has been in place for almost six years and we have been in this race for only six weeks,’’ Perry spokesman Mark Miner said. “Our goal is to have the necessary resources to run a credible campaign.’’

Campaigns often try to strategically lower expectations before they formally announce their fund-raising figures, as a way to offer a surprise victory. In this case, the fund-raising numbers will provide an early indication of Perry’s strength and Romney’s staying power.

Perry had a robust financial operation in Texas, but the state doesn’t have campaign contribution limits like the federal system. Romney has had years to build up a fund-raising base and has long ties to the well-heeled business community.

Raising money has been a major focus for the campaigns in recent weeks. Romney was in New York last night, followed by a fund-raiser tonight in Boston. Perry had stops planned last night in Washington.

Matt Viser

Reelection won’t be easy, Obama strategist says GOFFSTOWN, N.H. - With the economy foundering and Americans increasingly fed up with the government, President Obama’s top campaign strategist acknowledged yesterday the reelection difficulties facing the president.

“We don’t have the wind at our backs this election,’’ said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to Obama and a strategist for his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, speaking to about 200 people at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. “We have the wind in our face because the American people have the wind in their faces. This is going to be a titanic struggle.’’

Talking separately to reporters, Axelrod sought to downplay expectations for Obama’s quarterly fund-raising report, due out next month. While Axelrod said Obama would have a “healthy’’ quarter, he said that fund-raising is difficult in the current economy and that Obama canceled several events during this summer’s debt-ceiling debate.

Nationally, Obama’s approval ratings stand at around 43 percent, one of the lowest of his presidency, according to data collected by Real Clear Politics. While most surveys show Obama narrowly edging out his nearest Republican rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, two recent polls show Obama risks losing when matched against a generic Republican.

Axelrod, who was also media adviser to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s campaign, said Obama’s message will be about contrasting his economic vision with the one presented by his Republican rival.

“Ultimately, this isn’t just going to be a referendum on economic conditions,’’ Axelrod said. “It’s going to be a choice between two candidates with records and ideas bringing a very individual character to this race.’’

In an interview, Axelrod previewed attacks the president is likely to use against two potential opponents - Romney and Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

“I think Governor Perry is going have to explain why a state with among the lowest wages in the country, the highest rate of uninsured people . . . why a state with schools that are on the decline where he’s slashing investment in schools, why that’s a model for the country,’’ he said.

Regarding Romney, Axelrod said, “Governor Romney is going to have to explain why if he’s such an economic virtuoso, Massachusetts did so poorly under his leadership - 47th in the nation in job creation. He’s going to have to explain how you claim that you never raised taxes when you were governor, when you raised fees to the tune of $750 million a year.’’

The visit came as the Obama campaign is beginning to intensify nationally and in New Hampshire.

Jim Demers, a New Hampshire lobbyist who cochaired Obama’s 2008 campaign, said the campaign recently hired a state director, Pete Kavanaugh. Also, Stephanie Cutter, a senior adviser to Obama and longtime Democratic aide from Massachusetts, is planning to leave the White House to join the reelection campaign.

Cutter, who grew up in Raynham, will become a deputy campaign manager after Thanksgiving.