A Response to Claims that Sarah Palin has Run Her PAC Better than All Others

Let me start by saying this post is not meant to suggest that Sarah Palin didn’t run her PAC well, or that Palin is a bad manager. Palin has done amazing things with her PAC. Her ability to raise money from small donors and energize the base is phenomenal. She has gotten people to give money who have never donated to a political candidate before — and that is a great thing. However, the argument that the folks at Conservatives 4 Palin make that Palin will run a better presidential campaign than Mitt Romney because she spent a smaller percentage of the money she raised in her PAC is completely ridiculous.

Money raised to cash-on-hand ratio as measure of fundraising efficiency?!

C4P: The best way to compare the efficiency and effectiveness of different PACs is to compare their respective cash-on-hand/total receipts ratios. I believe the ratio is an extremely significant number because it tells you who knows how to spend money and how to save money effectively and efficiently. Under this metric, Governor Palin has clearly operated her PAC better than how Clinton, Obama, Romney, and Pawlenty have operated their PACs.

There are many reasons this argument makes absolutely no sense:

  • Political campaigns are not businesses. Unlike a business, there is no reason to SAVE money in a campaign. A surplus doesn’t mean a profit for shareholders. In fact, if a campaign ends up with a big surplus post-election day, it usually means the candidate did a poor job of running their campaign. You want to use every single penny in a campaign — a dollar the day after the election is a lot less valuable than a dollar the day before the election. Extra money means you should have bought another ad, sent out more mailers, bought more signs, hired another college kid to knock on doors, etc. The only legitimate reason to have leftover money post Election Day is if you KNOW you are going to win by a landslide. (Or lose by a landslide and the candidate loaned money to the campaign and wants the money back.)
  • Many smart campaigns actually plan on having a deficit post-Election Day. This is not a strategy I personally like, but a lot of smart managers do it. Like I said before, a dollar the day before an election is a lot more valuable than a dollar the day after. If the election is close and spending more money will make a difference, there is a legitimate argument to be made that going into debt is a good idea. If you win, it will be easy to raise money post-election to retire your debts. If you lose, it will be harder to raise the money to retire debt, but still possible with time. And, if you can’t raise the money to retire the debt — well, there is not a lot your creditors can do about it. Leftover leadership PAC money can’t be transferred to a candidate account. It isn’t like Palin or Romney will be able to use this money for their presidential campaigns.
  • The fact Palin has so much leftover money makes me think she didn’t know how to spend it properly. Palin hasn’t ever run a massive campaign. She tends to like advisors who also haven’t run massive campaigns. There are a lot of things campaigns spend money on that aren’t obvious to someone who hasn’t done it before. This could end up being a good thing for Palin if she is able to bypass some traditional pitfalls of campaign spending — but it could also hurt her if she skimps on important things. What’s important to spend money on in a campaign? Well, that depends on who you ask. The TV ad guys will tell you TV is the only thing that moves poll numbers. Direct mail vendors will swear you will lose if you don’t have a robust mail program. Your political director will tell you that you need more feet on the ground. Your volunteers will inform you that you’re losing votes left and right because you haven’t sent out enough bumper stickers… The answer is that no one really knows. Campaigns are more art than science.

  • However, things that are good predictors of how a potential candidate will run a Presidential campaign include:

  • How they’ve run a presidential campaign before. It is likely that Romney will run his Presidential campaign similarly to how he ran it in ’08. I was on his campaign in ’08. It was the best financially run campaign I’ve ever worked on. Money wasn’t wasted, expenses were accounted for, budgets were created and followed. You can bet the same will be true of his ’12 campaign. After Romney dropped out of the primary, I started working for McCain. It wasn’t the best financially run campaign I’ve ever worked on. McCain ran a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants campaign in 2000, and it was similarly run in ’08 — whether he had money or not at the time. (Note: I am not implying Palin had anything to do with the ’08 McCain budgeting and finances.)
  • The personality of the candidate. Do they focus on the big picture or details? Do they want to drill down through layers of policy, or just skim over the facts and let the staff sort out the details? Do they prefer an organized top-down style of management or are they okay with the chaos of a more Tea Partyesque bottom-up approach?
  • Previous executive experience. For Romney, you can get a pretty good idea of how he will run a campaign based on his work at Bain, on the 2002 Olympics, and as Governor of Massachusetts. For Palin, you can look at her time as Governor of Alaska and Mayor of Wasilla.
  • How they run their personal finances. Candidates who are okay with debt in their personal lives are likely going to be okay with debt on their campaign. Candidates who are very careful with money in their personal lives are likely to be very careful with campaign money.
  • Who their campaign manager is. The truth is, presidential candidates are really busy. They aren’t often at campaign headquarters. They don’t have a lot of time to go over campaign budget numbers. Who they hire as their campaign manager has a huge impact on how their campaign is run.
  • C4P: How someone runs and manages a multi-million dollar PAC tells you something about how that person would run a political campaign. After all, operating a PAC tests your ability to convince other people to give you money and tests your ability to handle their money as effectively and efficiently as possible. The experience one receives from running and managing a PAC is probably the closest experience one gets to running a campaign as the two experiences share similar mechanics and dynamics.

    Both Romney and Palin have raised an impressive amount of money through their leadership PACs. They both gave a lot of help to candidates in 2010. I would say both PACs were well run financially. The fact that Romney may have spent more money on overhead and staff just means he will have an easier time getting a full-fledged Presidential campaign off the ground in no time at all. Palin will have to start more slowly. The money left over in their PACs will make very little difference in the long run, and certainly can’t be used to predict how they will run their potential presidential campaigns.

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    Written by MRC guest contributor, Audrey Perry.


    Audrey Perry is a campaign and elections lawyer who worked as Deputy General Counsel for Romney in ’08. Her main tasks were getting Mitt on the ballot in all 50 states (and of course DC, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico), and counting lots and lots of delegates. After Romney dropped out of the race, she worked as counsel for McCain-Palin where she tried to get campaign staff to abide by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, insisted all yard signs have proper disclaimers, and tried to shut down ACORN in Las Vegas. She has also worked for Congress, Steve Poizner, the FEC and other various law firms and campaigns. Audrey blogs about politics and the law at www.legallypolitical.com.

    Mitt Romney Offers Gentlemanly Response to Hubbub Over Anonymous Comments

    Twitter has been all aflutter with Palinites upset over the anonymous comments by ‘supposed’ Romney staffers in a TIME.com news article. It’s been very painful to watch the “Romney” search on Twitter because of the many harmful and divisive things that are being said, particularly before a mid-term election. Granted the comments by the anonymous staffers are completely uncalled for, but I believe the sensational reaction has been equally wrong-spirited.

    The thing that is painful to watch is when the upset Palin supporters presume that these anonymous ill-speakers are actually conveying the mind and will of Mitt Romney. I don’t believe that is the case. Mitt Romney has been nothing but gracious towards Sarah Palin, or any other GOP member for that matter.

    These types of ugly remarks and over-reactions have severe effects on the unity of the party. Why should we let the tasteless remarks of two staffers divide thousands of conservative, who should be unified allies, into warring factions? Mark Halperin of TIME.com is probably laughing his hind end off over the schism he’s caused amongst our ranks.

    Here’s how it went down:

    The Time.com quote:

    One adviser to Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and, by traditional standards, the putative 2012 frontrunner, says of Palin, “She’s not a serious human being.” Another Romney intimate warns, “If she’s standing up there in a debate and the answers are more than 15 seconds long, she’s in trouble.”

    The upset responses:
    ReagantoPalin.com: Romney Campaign Staffers Attack Sarah Palin
    Conservatives4Palin.com Reagan to Palin: Romney Campaign Staffers Attack Sarah Palin
    Tammy Bruce (radio talk-show host and blogger): When it Comes to Palin, Romney Decides the Gutter Suits Him Best
    Rebecca Mansour, founder of C4P, but is now official adviser to Palin, promotes Tammy Bruce’s blog post via Twitter.
    Erick Erickson of Redstate.com and Allahpundit add fuel to the fire.
    A long-time Palin aide fights back and criticizes the Romney camp … anonymously via Politico. (Sorry, but that is just too ironic.)
    Plus many more I’m sure.

    Mitt Romney responds via Twitter:

    TIME says unnamed advisors disparaged @SarahPalinUSA. Anonymous numbskulls. She’s proven her smarts; they’ve disproven theirs.

    I would think this answer would placate some of the concerns of Palin supporters. Mitt denounced the anonymous commentors, and goes on record saying Palin has proven smarts, and again castigates the commentors. I thought it was sincere, gracious and well spoken. As someone commented on twitter: smart of @MittRomney to realize that an anonymous quote war w/ @SarahPalinUSA won’t get anyone anywhere.

    Frankly, I am even more astonished by further responses to Mitt Romney’s. When Romney offers an olive branch they accuse him of what else? 24 hour flip-flopping.

    Responses to Mitt’s tweet:
    Conservatives4Palin: Mitt Romney Surrenders Quickly
    Tammy Bruce blog post update: “pathetic, immature response from Romney”

    Uggh.

    This rhetoric needs to be toned down quickly. It is not even the mid-terms yet. If this continues it will be one very ugly primary, perhaps rivaling that of 2008. And the uglier it gets the more likely our nominee will lose in 2012.

    What should we as supporters do? Get some class like Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. That means you, unnamed “numbskull” commentors. And that means you, Tammy Bruce. And that means me, Nate Gunderson.

    ~Nate Gunderson

    Update: To further my point that all staffers don’t “speak the mind of the candidate” as Tammy Bruce suggests, Rebecca Mansour (Palin adviser) tweets this: Just to clarify things. This is my personal Twitter account. Just mine. These are my personal thoughts. It’s called free speech. Period.

    Update 2 by Jayde: Follow-up tweet from Rebecca Mansour (Palin adviser)

    @RomneyCentral Let’s work together on 2010.

    UPDATE 3 by Jayde: Some background information regarding Mark Halperin, author of the Times article in which he claims he spoke to an ‘adviser’ of Mitt Romney and an ‘intimate’ of Mitt Romney:

    Halperin worked for ABC for 20 years, with 10 of those years as their Political Director. “In that role, he was responsible for political reporting and planning for the network’s television, radio and Internet political coverage. He also appeared regularly on ABC News TV and radio as a correspondent and analyst, contributing commentary and reporting during election night coverage, presidential inaugurations and State of the Union speeches. At ABC, Halperin reported on every major American political story, including working as a full-time reporter covering the Clinton presidential campaign in 1992 and the Clinton White House.”

    Just a couple of weeks ago, on June 30th, he was named as MSNBC’s newest Senior Political Analyst.

    Last year, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann co-authored a best-selling book about the last presidential election called ‘Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, Palin and McCain, and the Race of a Lifetime’ which was released in January of this year. He and Heilemann claim truthful behind-the-scenes information (over 300 interviews) about then-candidates.

    Knowing Halperin’s background, with Obama’s plummeting poll numbers (could MSNBC’s low ratings be a factor?), he is attempting to throw a skunk into the Republican coalition family reunion. Let’s focus on the real threat to America – the Obama Administration and the progressives who support him.

    Unity.

    Update 4 by Jayde:
    Leave a comment for Tammy Bruce: http://bit.ly/aIsS6V

    Hat tip to Jim (MRC commenter):

    “You might want to add Mark Levin to that list, too. To hear Mark Levin’s take, follow the link below, wait until it has loaded, then drag the audio to the 1:08:35 mark.” http://bit.ly/aNi19U

    How to contact the Mark Levin Show:
    Phone: 1-877-381-3811
    (Mon. - Fri. 6pm to 9pm)
    Email: marklevin.show@citcomm.com

    Update 5 by Aaronius:
    Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom told The Daily Caller emphatically that the comments about Palin in the Time.com article were not authorized, approved or encouraged by Romney.

    “These anonymous voices don’t speak for Governor Romney,” Fehrnstrom said in an e-mail. “The truth is Governor Romney has a small circle of people who advise him, and they all know the high regard that he has for Sarah Palin, and he has expressed that view in numerous interviews over the years.”

    *Hat tip (from Jayde) to Marybeth (MRC commenter) for bringing this story to our attention as it was breaking.