Mitt Romney and the Republican Party have begun a late push to raise tens of millions of dollars in the closing weeks of the election, cash that will finance a last-minute barrage of advertising that Mr. Romney’s aides believe is critical to beating President Obama.
In an e-mail message to top donors and fund-raisers on Monday afternoon, Mr. Romney’s campaign said that it had raised $170 million in September, nearly as much as the near-record $181 million raised by Mr. Obama, but needed to bring in even more money in October to capitalize on Mr. Romney’s surge in swing states like Florida and Ohio.
The announcement kicked off a three-day retreat for donors at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel, where the campaign is seeking to capitalize on a burst of enthusiasm among formerly jittery donors — who were thrilled by Mr. Romney’s strong first debate performance — to recruit new donors and persuade old ones to give the maximum allowed by law. Donors, who will be treated to a Debate Watch Party at the Roseland Ballroom featuring the comedian Dennis Miller, will also spend part of the retreat working the phones in a miniature call-a-thon intended to wring out as many last-minute dollars as possible.
The effort will mark an unprecedented experiment in last-minute high-dollar fund-raising by a presidential campaign, one made necessary by Mr. Romney’s decision to forgo public financing without the cash cushion provided Mr. Obama by his millions of small donors.
Those donors have flooded Mr. Obama’s campaign with a steady stream of donations with little investment of the president’s time and energy, allowing him to focus more heavily on retail campaigning in recent months. While Mr. Romney’s fund-raising has kept roughly on pace with Mr. Obama’s since the beginning of the summer, his dollar totals lean more heavily on large checks to the Republican National Committee, which must pay higher rates for political advertising and is allowed to spend only a limited amount on ads coordinated with Mr. Romney’s campaign.
With less ready cash in its own accounts, Mr. Romney’s campaign was forced to restrain its spending during the summer advertising war — and take out a $20 million loan — while the president’s campaign went up on the air with a barrage of negative ads intended to define Mr. Romney early as a wealthy, out-of-touch venture capitalist. The Romney campaign is eager to strike back now, at a time when it believes that most undecided voters are just starting to tune in.
“We are pleased to announce that Romney Victory raised $170 million in the month of September,” Spencer Zwick, the campaign’s national finance chairman, said in the e-mail. “This is truly an incredible testament to this group’s commitment and hard work and represents the largest amount of money we have raised to date in any given month of the campaign.”
“With 22 days until the election, we continue to rely on your support in the final push to victory,” Mr. Zwick added. “These contributions allow us to deliver Governor Romney’s message and execute an effective ground game in the important swing states.”
The three-day retreat in New York is a follow-up event to the star-studded “Republicanpalooza” the campaign held in June in Park City, Utah.
The $50,000 entrance fee, which most of the donors long ago raised, gets Mr. Romney’s “Founding Partners and Members” and “Stars and Stripes” club members into a dinner Monday night at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, as well as a packed day of panels Tuesday.
Headliners at the Intrepid dinner include Representative Paul D. Ryan, Mr. Romney’s running mate; Rudolph W. Guiliani, former mayor of New York City; Reince Preibus, the Republican National Committee chairman; Donald Trump; and Mr. Zwick.
Mr. Ryan is also hosting his own cocktail and photo reception Monday afternoon at the Hilton New York — $1,000 per person and $5,000 for a photo.
The first panel, “Campaign and Strategy Briefing,” will feature Rich Beeson, the campaign’s political director; Ed Gillespie and Beth Myers, senior strategists for the campaign; Neil Newhouse, Mr. Romney’s pollster; and Mr. Priebus.
The session “Issues Facing America — Jobs,” will include remarks by Carlos Gutierrez, a former secretary of commerce; Harold Hamm, an oil magnate and energy adviser to Mr. Romney; Jimmy John Liautaud, chairman of the Jimmy John’s restaurant chain; Scott G. McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems; and Charles Schwab, chief executive of the Charles Schwab Corporation. Mr. Zwick will address the final session, “Make The Difference,” in what is likely a final pitch to donors in the end stretch.