|WASHINGTON - |
Republican Fred Thompson on Tuesday reported raising nearly $3.5 million in one month for his expected presidential bid, lagging behind his backers' original $5 million goal.
The "Law & Order" actor and former Tennessee senator filed documents with the Internal Revenue Service that provided the first glimpse of the all-but-certain White House hopeful's financial situation.
Thompson spent only $625,745 of the $3.46 million he raised in June, the first month of his preliminary campaign committee, the report showed. Still, the total raised fell short of the $5 million target his backers initially set in a one-month showing for his committee "testing the waters" of a presidential bid.
Nevertheless, Thompson praised the take in a statement, saying: "The level of support and enthusiasm from people across this country is inspiring."
While he collected more than several other Republicans, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain, in their initial months as prospective candidates, Thompson's take doesn't even compare to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's one-day $6.5 million haul.
Although he's not yet officially in the GOP race, Thompson continues to rank high in national popularity polls and surveys of early primary states. He has spent months laying the groundwork for a bid but has delayed declaring himself a candidate. He trails his top rivals significantly in fundraising and organization.
The financial disclosure comes amid upheaval within his would-be campaign; the campaign-manager-in-waiting was sidelined, a few additional aides have departed and others are considering doing the same.
In all, 9,167 people from across the country donated to Thompson, including 7,534 who donated online. Aides totaled 6,888 small donors who gave $200 or less, a group Thompson can tap again for campaign cash.
Among all donors, the average contribution was $369.87.
Donors in his state of Tennessee contributed more than $1.6 million. Other top donor states were Texas, New York and Virginia, where he and his wife now live, and California, home to Hollywood where the actor is well-known.
High-profile donors included Trace Adkins, a country music singer, and his wife, Rhonda, who live outside of Nashville. Each contributed the $2,300 maximum. Several entertainment industry executives, such as Stephen Land of Jupiter Entertainment in Knoxville, Tenn., and Richard A. Wolf, the producer of NBC's "Law & Order" series, each contributed the same.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who went to college at Tennessee, gave $2,300 to Thompson.
Another contributor was Douglas J. Feith, the former Pentagon policy chief who was an architect of the administration's war on terrorism. Congressional Democrats have accused Feith of misleading Congress about Iraq's prewar links to al-Qaida.
Former Republican Sens. Alfonse D'Amato of New York and Howard Baker of Tennessee also donated to Thompson's bid.
New York socialite Georgette Mosbacher, the president and chief executive officer of Borghese, a cosmetic, skincare and fragrance company, also donated.
On the spending side, Thompson's June payroll totaled $106,852, and his largest disbursement was $66,750 to Straight Line in Scottsdale, Ariz. Thompson's aides said the money went for Internet hardware. He doled out nearly as much, $65,362, to i Web Strategies in Alexandria, Va.
Aides pointed to a spending rate of 18 percent, far below those of Thompson's prospective rivals who, unlike him, have been operating full-blown campaigns for the past six months or more.
The IRS filing gives only a partial picture of Thompson's finances. Only money collected and spent in June had to be reported. Thompson's aides said the total includes money collected at two fundraisers and online, without the committee doing direct mail and telephone solicitations. Under IRS rules, Thompson didn't have to disclose money raised and spent in July, a month in which he held several large fundraisers.
On June 4, Thompson filed with the state of Tennessee to establish the "Friends of Fred Thompson, Inc.," committee. That allowed him to explore a candidacy without having to disclose to the Federal Election Commission how much he was raising and spending unless - or until - he becomes a declared candidate. The IRS, however, required him to file a report.