In a challenge to Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s frontrunner for the presidential nomination, Texas Congressman Ron Paul raised another million dollars in just 24 hours Sunday, using the online fundraising technique pioneered by his grassroots supporters in 2007 known as the “money bomb.” The Paul campaign urged his supporters in email updates leading up to the event to help the Texas congressman fight Mitt Romney’s special interest donors from “Wall Street bankers” and the political establishment.
In addition to leading the Republican field in surveys across the country, the former Massachusetts governor raised a whopping ten million dollars in one day last month at a call-a-thon in Las Vegas, demonstrating his formidable fundraising prowess. In emails to his supporters, the Ron Paul campaign argued that he wouldn’t need to raise ten million dollars to show up Mitt Romney because he doesn’t have a “liberal” big government record to defend like Romney does.
Million dollar online fundraisers are now a common feature of Ron Paul’s presidential ambitions. This is the second million dollar day that Ron Paul has had in the last two months, and during his 2008 bid, he raised over four million in one day and another six million in a single day just a month later. What makes Ron Paul’s most recent “money bomb” especially interesting is that his campaign styled it as a battle between Ron Paul’s limited government conservatism and frontrunner Mitt Romney’s record of growing the entitlement state. The official name for the fundraiser was “The Revolution vs. RomneyCare: Round One.”
This is the first major attack by one candidate on another’s record so far in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, and subtitling it “Round One” indicates that the Paul campaign isn’t finished taking Mitt Romney to task for his signature legislative accomplishment as governor. Romney’s health care bill would eventually form the blueprint for the unpopular and widely controversial health care bill that opponents have pejoratively called “ObamaCare,” which ironically served as a rallying point for members of the energetic Tea Party movement.
In addition to the broader intraparty struggle, it’s worth comparing Ron Paul’s recent “money bomb” fundraiser with that of another Tea Party favorite, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Though she is a strong fundraiser via more traditional methods, late last month when Bachmann urged supporters to help her raise $240,000 online in 24 hours, she came up short with only $165,000. During the first Republican presidential debate held in South Carolina, when asked if he had been eclipsed by Bachmann as a leader in the Tea Party movement, Ron Paul quipped that “she’s not here tonight, so I don’t think so.”
What’s clear is that Ron Paul’s campaign is already moving to frame the upcoming Republican primary as a fight between himself as an advocate of limited government and frontrunner Mitt Romney who has a record of expanding government. With the kind of poll results Congressman Paul has been getting, consistently placing second or third in key primary states, outperforming most of the Republican field in name recognition, and besting every single other Republican contender in a hypothetical 2012 campaign against Barack Obama, Paul certainly has the credibility to assert this political narrative. Time will tell if Republican voters agree.