GOP Fundraising Outlook Part I: Romney Backers Worry About Spending

The biggest question that pros will be asking when they assess Republican presidential campaign finances in October: how much of a cash-on-hand advantage does ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giulani have? The corollary question: how much has Mitt Romney spent?

Through two quarters, he had spent $15M more than Giuliani , and some Republicans estimate that with his heavy spending on television advertising and the Ames straw poll, he'll exceed Giuliani's aggregate spending by $20M through three quarters.

Giuliani advisers won't provide an estimate of their expected haul -- they are very good at keeping their estimates in house -- but they probably will not raise as much as they did last quarter. Through June 30, Giuliani had raised nearly $35M and had $16M left to spend, a burn rate of about 45%.

Romney has loaned himself nearly $9M, which, when subtracted from his $12M cash-on-hand, would suggest that receipts in have not kept pace with disbursements, generally, which have totaled more than $32M. Romney donors said that they had been told that Romney was prepared to spend another $5M to keep his campaign's budget intact. They give a range of $10M to $12M for individual contributions in the third quarter.

John McCain will raise between $4 and $5M; Fred Thompson will probably raise around $6M.

A back-of-envelope calculation: If Rudy raised $13M and kept his burn rate at 50%, he'll have about $22M in the bank. If Romney raises, at a low end, $15M (including his own contribution) and wound up spending $.75 cents per dollar, he'll have less than $8M in the bank. (His campaign reported cash-on-hand totals of more than $12M last quarter, but, per Political Money Line, it had debts of nearly $10M.)

So -- the answer to the first question we posed: Giuliani may have between $11M and $15M more to spend than Romney as of the end of the third quarter.

His campaign knows, however, that Romney could theoretically write himself another check to keep pace.