Is Ron Paul running into money problems?

Ron Paul has about $1.6 million in the bank, according to the FEC, whereas he spent $5 million in January. It’s easy to think that this month he has to raise more, spend less, or dive into the red.

Charlie Riedel/AP
Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas waves to supporters after a rally at the University of Missouri, last week, in Columbia, Mo.

Is Ron Paul running into money problems? You might think so if you look at his latest Federal Election Commission report. The report, filed over the weekend, shows that he took in about $3.3 million in February. That’s almost $1 million less than he amassed in January – meaning his frenzied “money bomb” fund appeals are perhaps becoming less effective.

Furthermore, he’s got only about $1.6 million in the bank, according to the FEC figures. He spent $5 million in January alone. Do the math, and it’s easy to think that this month he has to raise more, spend less, or dive into the red. And we’re pretty sure that the Paul campaign won’t go that last route, given how much he dislikes deficit spending.

Fear not, Paulites! We think Representative Paul will cruise easily toward the GOP convention in August, if that’s what he wants. He won’t be reduced to wandering student unions after college appearances, asking for spare bills or loose change.

First of all, January was a big month. It was crammed with big primaries and tempting caucuses. Paul won’t have to spend $5 million each month down the road to keep up the same level of activity.

Second, the Paul campaign is leaner than your average presidential bid. It’s certainly more efficient than the Romney machine. Paul spends a relatively high percentage of his cash on campaign activities, with media buys and administrative costs taking up a smaller share of his resources than they do for his rivals, on average.

According to a breakdown of expenditures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Paul spends about 34 cents of every dollar on direct campaign activities. The equivalent figure for Mitt Romney is about 26 cents of every dollar.

Plus – and let’s be realistic here – Paul is not conducting all-out electoral warfare across the map. He is picking places where he thinks he will do well, or that he thinks are conducive to his message. (While we’re on this, let’s get off the “Paul hasn’t won anywhere” meme. We’ve chalked up the Virgin Islands caucuses as a Paul win. The rest of the mainstream media should follow suit.)

That’s cheaper than going toe-to-wingtip with Mitt in Illinois. Look at Paul’s own online list of upcoming events: On Tuesday, the day of the Illinois primary, it’s got nothing listed in the Land of Lincoln. Paul in fact will be in Los Angeles, hosting a (surprise, surprise) fundraising luncheon and taping an appearance on Jay Leno’s "Tonight Show" that will air that evening.

Last, we’ll point out that Paul remains in far better financial shape than some of his ex-rivals. According to the latest FEC figures, the failed campaigns of both Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman remain in debt, with outstanding obligations that outstrip their residual cash.

Mr. Huntsman in particular has a brutal balance sheet. His debts total $5,176,723. His cash on hand? A whopping $870.

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