Hillary Rodham Clinton has spent more than twice as much as any other presidential candidate on campaign staff, more than three times as much on office space and millions of dollars more on advertising, according to reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.
Three months before the first nominating contest, Mrs. Clinton has built a cash-hungry campaign juggernaut that is more far-flung and more expensive than anything else on the horizon.
The goal is to overwhelm her rivals for the Democratic nomination — including those who are still considering a bid — before the first flowers of spring, and to amass an organizational advantage that no Republican rival will be able to match by Election Day.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides say they have learned their lessons from the 2008 campaign, when she larded her campaign with highly paid consultants and ultimately succumbed to a rival with surprising financial strength and superior organization. This time, they say, Mrs. Clinton was spending heavily to build an unparalleled campaign infrastructure that could quickly morph into a general election machine.
“You can’t just parachute into a state at the last minute and hope to build a campaign overnight,” Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said in an email. “That’s why we made smart early investments in data, analytics, tech, digital and on-the-ground organizing to build a strong, sturdy campaign designed to fight for and earn every vote in every state.”
But the filings also reveal the size of the gamble Mrs. Clinton is taking. After a record-breaking spring on the fund-raising circuit, her cash intake over the summer barely kept pace with her spending, a reflection of the sheer cost of maintaining the largest campaign infrastructure in either party.
“I think these are very smart investments for them,” said Robert Shrum, a longtime Democratic strategist who advised John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. “But it is premised on one thing: that they can keep up the fund-raising pace.”