John L. Russell, Associated Press
Mitt Romney

Utahns continue to contribute big to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, giving the Republican candidate nearly $1.2 million during the past three months.

That brings Utah's total contributions to Romney's campaign to about $5 million — a significant chunk of the nearly $63 million war chest that includes $17 million in loans from the candidate.

"Governor Romney is grateful for all the support he has had in Utah," Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told the Deseret Morning News. "And once again, voters in Utah have come out to support him."

According to numbers released by the Romney campaign Monday, Utahns accounted for 12 percent of the $9.8 million in contributions reported in the third quarter financial disclosure statement filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

That put Utah behind only California in showing financial support for Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts known here for leading the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City and, like most Utahns, for being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Polls show Romney is far and away the favorite candidate in solidly Republican Utah. Nearly two-thirds of those polled recently for the Deseret Morning News who said they planned to vote in the state's Feb. 5, 2008, GOP primary said they'd cast their ballot for Romney.

Romney has repeatedly returned to the state to raise money, most recently at a "Rally for Romney" held at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Sept. 28. The rally, the last of some 50 held nationwide, was intended to attract donors unable to write big checks.

But the six-hour event, open to anyone willing to commit to making calls to family and friends for contributions, reportedly took in more than $100,000. Earlier that same day, Romney collected that much from a more traditional fund-raising event in St. George.

Romney's top fund-raisers, though, never stop calling for cash. The team, led by Utahn Spencer Zwick, includes John Miller, the head of a Midwestern meat-packing company who lives in Deer Valley next to Romney's winter vacation home.

No other White House contender has come close to Romney's ability to raise money in Utah. By midyear, a Morning News analysis showed that more than 88 percent of all presidential campaign contributions coming from the state went to Romney.

The frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, collected just under $90,000 from Utahns in the three months ending Sept. 30. Giuliani held two fund-raisers in the state during that time.

Other presidential candidates also have come to Utah to ask for money in the past three months, including a trio of Democrats, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd.

Romney is spending his campaign cash to raise his national profile. Thanks to big television commercial buys in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, he is leading in polls in those states.

But Romney continues to trail in the national polls, often behind not just Giuliani but also the other top-tier GOP candidates, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Tennessee senator and actor Fred Thompson.

Zwick told Utahns participating in last month's rally that they needed to raise money to pay for more advertising. That's particularly true in Southern states such as South Carolina, where Romney has run into questions from evangelical Christians about his LDS faith.

Gitcho pointed out that three Southern states made the campaign's top 10 list of contributors — Florida, Texas and Virginia.

"The governor's message of conservative change in Washington," she said, "is resounding in more states."

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