Team Fred offers a defense of their fundraising:
I’m sure you’ve seen the Politico story on Thompson raising more than $3 million in his first month - a sizable amount for someone who hasn't been running since 1999. Unfortunately, people are comparing this to active candidates, when the appropriate comparison is to equivalent exploratory periods. Here’s a little information you might find useful:
(1) In his first exploratory month, Thompson raised well over $3 million - more than 10x what Giuliani did in his first month and about 3x McCain. Here’s the initial exploratory month (from the time they started taking money) for GOP candidates...
· Giuliani - total raised in first month (Nov. 15-Dec. 15): $258,660
· McCain - total raised in first month (Nov. 14-Dec. 14): $1,130,351
· Romney - raised more money in his first month, but largely because he organized his big-dollar donors ahead of time to give himself a bit splash and he “loaned his committee at least $850,000 weeks before filing his statement of candidacy on Jan. 3”
(2) Under FEC rules, you are not allowed to raise funds “in excess of what could reasonably be expected to be used for exploratory activities”. Thompson has raised an appropriate amount for an exploratory phase. Note, however…
· One month ago, the DNC attacked Thompson (in the Politico) for potentially raising more money than he’d need for the exploratory period and said they’d “argue aggressively” against him. The DNC rolled out that hit piece at Daily Kos claiming that Thompson was “Raising Funds Beyond What You Need To "Explore"” and the liberal activist outlet CREW said Thompson “appears to have raised far more money than necessary…”
· After being attacked for raising “too much” money, Thompson is now being attacked for not spending his entire Exploratory focus on raising money.
(3) So far we’ve utilized no direct mail or telephone fundraising, and we have a burn rate below 20% - far below the other candidates.
It's a pugnacious defense, and almost convincing... until you figure that they probably would prefer to be in the situation where they have to defend raising $5 million or more.
Having said that, I wonder how many potential donors are holding off, because they want to donate to an actual, hat-in-the-ring candidate, not a dipping-my-toe-in-the-water potential candidate.