WASHINGTON - Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann's campaign is burning through money faster than she can rake it in from the numerous small-dollar donors who make up the bulk of her contributors, her report to the Federal Election Commission showed Saturday.
Bachmann took in $4.1 million over the past three months for her campaign, putting her far behind most of the leaders in the GOP nomination battle, her FEC report showed.
She reported nearly $6 million in campaign expenditures over the third quarter, which runs from July through September. That's nearly $2 million more than she took in.
Among her most significant expenses was $60,000 to campaign manager Ed Rollins, who stepped down after several months on the job and raised questions about Bachmann's ability to stay in the race beyond the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, where she is focusing most of her efforts.
For Bachmann, the latest fundraising total represents a drop from the previous reporting period, when she was able to raise $4.2 million, much of it during the June launch of the campaign.
Counting money transferred from her congressional campaign, Bachmann has raised a total of $7.5 million in her White House bid, a figure still dwarfed by rivals such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has raised an estimated $17 million since he entered the race in August.
Presumptive front-runner Mitt Romney announced Friday that he has raised $14 million over the past three months. Texas Congressman Ron Paul claimed $8 million in third-quarter fundraising.
Among the leaders in the polls, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain also lagged behind in fundraising, raising $2.8 million this quarter, less than Bachmann.
But Bachmann trails Cain in most polls, including several taken this past week in Iowa, where she is hoping to mount a comeback. With about 10 weeks left before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Bachmann's reports show her with a little more than $1.5 million left in the bank.
Fueled by small donations
Campaigning in Iowa this week, Bachmann told reporters that she was "delighted" with the support she has received, taking in donations from 92,000 supporters who gave an average of $42 each.
Her reports underscore the importance of small donors in a campaign aimed largely at evangelicals and Tea Party supporters. She raised $2.8 million of her $3.9 million in unitemized contributions less than $200.
Bachmann raised the most money in the third quarter from California, where donors gave her $157,000. Minnesota was next with $102,000, followed by Texas, where she hauled in $92,000.
But in order for Bachmann to rely so heavily on small-dollar donations, she has had to spend big on her fundraising operation. Her campaign burned through $635,000 on postage and $621,000 on direct mail services, according to the latest FEC report. Online fundraising also was expensive: The campaign paid $354,000 in online advertising, $182,000 on website and data services, and $92,000 for online fundraising.
Bachmann's expenses went beyond fundraising, though. The campaign spent nearly $230,000 on salaries and $123,000 on "campaign management," which included the $60,000 to Rollins, a veteran GOP operative who has been said by sources inside the campaign to have clashed with her on strategic decisions. She still owes Rollins $30,000, according to her filing.
The latest report also illustrates the premium Bachmann paid to win the Iowa straw poll in August, the high-water mark of her campaign. For her high-profile campaign events, including the straw poll, Bachmann spent $206,000 in the third quarter on staging, $186,000 on event planning and another $58,000 categorized as "event staging." She also paid $57,000 in catering costs and $95,000 for event entertainment.
Kevin Diaz and Jeremy Herb are the Star Tribune's Washington correspondents.