ABC News' Rick Klein and Teddy Davis Report: Former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., has spent more on television ads in New Hampshire than all of his GOP opponents combined, even as his supporters argue that he's an underdog in the Granite State against Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Romney has spent about $7.3 million on New Hampshire ads, more than twice the $3.5 million spent by McCain, according to data compiled by the Campaign Media Analysis Group, an independent organization that tracks ad spending.
Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., has spent about $2.5 million in the state, while Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has spent just under $1 million. Former governor Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., has only spent $100,000 on ads, while former senator Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., hasn't spent anything on New Hampshire television.
After taking "the silver" in Iowa, Romney and some of his supporters are trying to argue that a second-place finish in New Hampshire should be seen as a victory of sorts. They're portraying McCain as the prohibitive front-runner, citing his overwhelming victory in the 2000 primary against then-governor George W. Bush.
"If [Romney] comes in second, he'll be the only one to place in the top two in the first two contests," Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., one of Romney's most prominent New Hampshire supporters, told ABC News. "It's naive to presume that John McCain’s not going to win."
Romney also spent more than all of his rivals combined in Iowa, according to CMAG. His TV spending there was pegged at $7 million; Huckabee was second with $1.4 million, and Thompson third by spending $1.1 million.
Romney dumped $17 million of his own fortune into his campaign through the first nine months of 2007. His campaign said this week that he contributed more money during the fourth quarter, but will not say how much he gave, per ABC's John Berman.
The Democratic numbers show an evenly matched spending war between the frontrunners. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., have both spent $4.5 million on New Hampshire ads. Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., has spent about $1.5 million, while Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., has spent approximately $500,000.
One other note on the Republican spending: What could Paul be saving his money for? He's picked up his New Hampshire ad traffic in recent days. But he raised nearly $20 million just in the last three months of 2007.
That means he can easily stay in the race all the way through the Republican National Convention if he chooses. And while he has repeatedly said he has no interest in running as an independent, ending the primary season with tens of millions of dollars in the bank could tempt him to reconsider.