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So far, top Republicans outspending Democrats

Fredreka Schouten USA Today

The top Republican presidential candidates spent more than their Democratic counterparts in the first six months of the year, even though the GOP contenders raised less money, the latest campaign-finance reports show.

Republicans Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain outspent Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards by more than $20 million, according to a USA TODAY analysis. The three Republicans lag the top Democrats in total receipts by $40 million and have $61 million less in the bank.

The Republicans “are running Cadillac campaigns,” said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University. He cautioned that they will “have to re-engineer their campaigns and downsize to a more efficient vehicle” if they are to compete effectively in the primaries.

One difference: spending on consultants from April to June. Top GOP contenders spent twice as much to get advice on everything from raising money to public relations, the analysis shows.

Romney’s fundraising bill, for example, accounts for $1 out of every $5 spent by Republicans on consultants in the second quarter. Spokesman Kevin Madden said Romney, making his first White House bid, opted to use fundraisers throughout the country rather than put them on staff to “build the broad network that’s needed at this point in the campaign.”

McCain, meanwhile, spent more than $370,000 a month on financial consultants in the second quarter. The Arizona senator also paid 20 staff and consultants at least $25,000 each in that period, according to the newspaper’s analysis. In contrast, former New York mayor Giuliani paid the same amount in the second quarter to 13 aides and advisers.

Once the front-runner for the GOP nomination, McCain reported nearly $2 million in debt and has slightly more than $3 million cash on hand. He has had to dramatically scale back his campaign’s staff and strategy.

By comparison, Edwards spent about $880,000 on consultants from April to June, the most of any Democrat in that period.

Overall, Romney has spent the most of any candidate so far this year– $32.3 million – according to campaign-finance reports. That’s close to what President Bush spent in all of 2003 for his re-election, according to the non-profit Campaign Finance Institute. The latest reports, which cover the second quarter, show the former Massachusetts governor spent nearly $5 million on TV ads – more than any candidate of either party.

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