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Campaign reports show disparity among GOP

By Jack Gillum

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Oct. 15 2011 3:30 p.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich looks to his wife Callista during a break in a Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH., Tuesday night, Oct. 11, 2011, as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum looks on.

Jim Cole, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — With just over a year left in the race for the White House, campaign finance reports released Saturday offered the first major picture into the haves and the have-nots among the Republican presidential candidates.

Two of the top Republican contenders, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, have brought in more than $30 million combined. Meanwhile, candidates like former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and businessman Herman Cain raised significantly less.

The financial reports detail how flush some GOP candidates are with cash — and how nearly broke others are — heading into the final weeks before contests in key primary states.

Reports on two of the biggest money-raisers so far — Romney and President Barack Obama — reveal millions in contributions from party devotees and small donors alike.

At the same time, reports filed late Friday offered a mixed picture of the campaign field, with Obama raising more than $70 million between his campaign and the Democratic Party. Some candidates are saddled with debt, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who has dropped out of the race.

The reports didn't capture the tens of millions raised by new, outside groups known as super political action committees, which can collect unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Leading contenders Perry and Romney have at least one super PAC each working to boost their candidacies, and another group is backing Obama's re-election bid.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a favorite of libertarians, collected $8.2 million, spent $7.5 million during the period and has no debt. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum reported raising more than $700,000 during the quarter, spent nearly $750,000 and owes about $70,000.

Gingrich owes the most among all candidates who have filed so far, with more than $1.1 million in debts for expenses like office supplies, direct mail and outside experts — including $5,250 for a "Hispanic outreach consultant" and $724 for a "social media consultation." His campaign raised about $793,000 this period, about a third of which came from small donors.

Meanwhile, Businessman Herman Cain's report said he raised $2.8 million and spent $1.9 million through Sept. 30, ending the period with $1.3 million in the bank. Through the end of September, Cain has loaned his campaign $675,000, with most of it taken out during the spring.

For Romney, more cash meant more flexibility in travel. He spent about $240,000 in private jets, although he has tweeted in the past about flying commercial on low-cost air carrier Southwest Airlines.

Romney, like his opponents, garnered support from small-dollar donors, drawing 80 percent of his contributions from checks less than $250. A former venture capitalist, he raised $18 million during the April-June period.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has until 11:59 p.m. EDT Saturday to file her first presidential campaign report with the Federal Election Commission.

Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

Follow Jack Gillum at http://twitter.com/jackgillum

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