MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(ANDERSON, S.C.) — Rick Perry may have run out of money to pay his presidential campaign staff. But Thursday night — four years to the day after he launched his first presidential campaign, awash in money and acclaim — he vowed that did not matter.
“This is a long game, and I tell folks I’m in it to win,” Perry, the former Texas governor who is running for the Republican nomination, said after a town hall meeting in Anderson, South Carolina. “We’ll be back on track.”
In a way, he might be right.
While Perry’s campaign raised just $1.08 million through the end of June — putting him near the bottom of the pack of then-declared candidates — a trio of pro-Perry Super PACs brought in around $16.8 million by early July, more than those backing most other candidates.
Super PACs, groups that cannot coordinate with campaigns but that can receive uncapped contributions, have been fueling this campaign cycle by sponsoring events and building out candidates’ ground games in early-voting states, as in the case of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, both Republicans.
“We would welcome any involvement by the Super PACs to help us,” Jamie Johnson, Perry’s senior director in Iowa, told ABC News. “And I think any campaign would say the same thing.”
Austin Barbour, a Republican operative advising the pro-Perry groups, told ABC News that they have known since Perry’s low fundraising numbers became public last month that his groups would have to “diversify” their operations to pick up the slack — and aimed to do “everything that we can that’s legal.”
That amounts to hiring staff in Iowa — Barbour said he has two people in place already — knocking on doors, calling voters, paying for advertisements — and, in essence, carrying out the campaign Perry might run if he had the money.
One of the groups, which all have “Opportunity and Freedom PAC” in their name, hosted him at a forum last month. They have paid for advertising to try to raise his national poll numbers and propel him to the first GOP debate’s main stage — albeit unsuccessfully.
But the Super PACs cannot hire Perry’s staff should they decide to stop working on a volunteer basis — all except one have stayed on board, his campaign manager said Tuesday — since federal regulations impose a 120-day cooling-off period on former staffers.
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Read More →