Jan. 23, 2008— -- In a sign of just how desperate the Republican presidential front-runners are for cash, two of them left Florida to hold fundraisers in New York City to raise badly needed campaign dollars -- with less than a week to go before the crucial Florida primary.
Both Rudy Giuliani and John McCain left the state to shake the New York money tree. They're so low on funds that senior staffers on their campaigns are forgoing salaries.
When asked if he had sufficient funds to compete in Super-Duper Tuesday following the Florida primary, former New York Mayor Giuliani responded, "Winning Florida is very important, and then we'll think about the rest of it once we win Florida."
Mike Huckabee's so hard up this week that he grounded his press plane -- a big hit for a candidate who relies so much on media coverage.
"I don't have a lot of personal money. I can't write a big check, so if -- you know -- the campaign doesn't make it all the way, we want to be able to walk away in the black," he explained.
Running ads in Florida costs up to $2 million a week, and it's only going to get more expensive. One week after Florida come the 23 contests on Super-Duper Tuesday, including New York, where it costs $3 million a week to advertise, and California, where it costs $4 million a week.
"In New Hampshire and Iowa, we had close to $80 million spent in those two states. My guess at this point is that a couple of the candidates would maybe like some of that money back to prosecute their campaigns in the Feb. 5 states," said Evan Tracey, COO and founder of the TNSMI campaign media analysis group.
Some Republicans are running out of donors.
"They pretty much got the low-hanging fruit, so they were able to raise their money from their reliable supporters from the folks that they knew would give them money," said Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project.
This is all good news for Mitt Romney, who is reportedly worth as much as $250 million. He's on track to spend more of his personal fortune on his campaign than multi-millionaires Ross Perot or Steve Forbes spent on previous campaigns.
"I think the things that matter most to me in life, I'm willing to invest in," Romney said.