MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - About a dozen senior campaign staffers for Rudy Giuliani are forgoing their January paycheque, a sign of possible money trouble for the Republican presidential candidate and last year's national front-runner.
"We have enough money, but we could always use more money," said Mike DuHaime, Giuliani's campaign manager and one of those who now is working for free. "We want to make sure we have enough to win."
At the end of December, the campaign had US$12.7 million cash on hand, $7 million of which could be used for the primary, DuHaime said Friday. He disputed the notion of a cash-strapped operation and said Giuliani continues to bring in money; several fundraisers are scheduled this week in Florida.
The former New York mayor has yet to win a contest and is counting on a victory in delegate-rich Florida on Jan. 29 to prove his candidacy is viable heading into the multistate contests slated for Feb. 5, where he believes he can prevail in states such as California and Illinois.
It's an unorthodox and costly strategy because Florida and states that follow have some of the most expensive media markets in the country. And with so many states voting in such a short time period, candidates can do little else but rely on paid media - and news coverage - to get out their message.
Republican strategists estimate that it will cost roughly $35 million to run one week of heavy levels of ads in the two dozen states that hold contests on Feb. 5.
Giuliani has struggled to grab his share of the spotlight from rivals Mike Huckabee, winner in Iowa, and Senator John McCain, the victor in New Hampshire, as well as Mitt Romney. Recent polls show Giuliani, the undisputed leader in most 2007 national surveys, losing his top spot.
DuHaime and other aides stressed that relinquishing pay was voluntary and was limited to senior staffers, many of whom already had contributed the maximum allowed by law to the campaign, $2,300. Aides said some people offered to give up their cheques, prompting the campaign to then ask if others wanted to volunteer. They insisted no one was forced to work without pay.
"I want to do everything I can to make sure Rudy's president, and I speak for a lot of the campaign when I say that," DuHaime said. "None of us joined this campaign for money."
Still, the move raises questions about whether Giuliani's bank account is as flush as it should be for him to cobble together enough delegates to secure the party nod. One aide said money was getting tight.
Through September, Giuliani had raised $45 million and had $11.6 million available for the primary campaign. With $7 million in cash on had at the end of December, that means Giuliani had spent nearly $5 million more than he took in during the last three months of the year.
All Republican candidates have struggled to raise money for the 2008 presidential race, an indication that Republican donors aren't as energized as Democrats. Nearly every Republican party hopeful set sky-high fundraising goals, but failed to meet them.
Giuliani, for his part, spent $300,000 on radio ads in Iowa and more money on direct mail, only to come in sixth. In New Hampshire, he spent some $3 million on TV and radio ads, and flooded mailboxes with direct mail; he finished fourth. He has been spending millions over the past month to run TV ads in Florida, and had a high rate of spending throughout most of last year.
Over the past few days, Giuliani has moved his handful of paid staffers out of Michigan and South Carolina to Florida, which has emerged as his best shot to re-ignite his campaign.
He also launched two ads in Florida, one of which urged viewers to discount media pundits and their election analyses. The ad seemed as much aimed at voters as it was to fundraisers, who are crucial to the well-being of his campaign at this stage.
Giuliani has spent nearly $1.4 million in Florida on ads since Dec. 28, according to data tracked by another presidential campaign.