Late Monday evening, National Journal reported Rick Perry was no longer paying campaign staff in South Carolina.

Naturally, the report raised speculation that Governor Perry’s presidential campaign might be the first to run out of fuel. Later, several news outlets reported that Perry’s entire campaign staff had been relegated to volunteer status and given the go-ahead to seek other employment.

While Perry’s campaign isn’t rolling in dough, the Super PACs supporting the Governor’s presidential bid certainly aren’t broke. They’re also not flush with cash.

National Journal explained Tuesday:

But while his official campaign has been reduced to a volunteer operation, a trio of independent pro-Perry super PACs remain well-heeled, making it less likely Perry will be forced to exit the race entirely.

“Oh God, yes, full steam ahead,” said Austin Barbour, a senior adviser to Perry’s super PACs. “Because we raised $16.8 million.”

The remarkable imbalance between the cash-strapped campaign and the flush super PAC will likely test the limits, already being pushed by other underfunded candidates, of how much responsibility can be pushed off onto unlimited-money outside groups.

“We raised as much money as possible so that we would have the ability to spend it in whatever way we needed to spend it,” Barbour said, “whether it was traditional super PAC ways on paid media or whatever other ways we need.”

Several other Republican campaigns (see also: Fiorina’s, Walker’s, and Bush’s) rely heavily on their supporting Super PACs to purchase and place the lion’s share of often pricey ad buys.

Federal Election Commission regulations prohibit campaign staffers from hopping over to the PAC without first waiting 120 days.

In a crowded field, not having the opportunity to participate in the first prime time Republican presidential debate last week did nothing to help Perry’s cause.

RedState’s Erick Erickson reminded readers McCain’s campaign faced similar difficulties early on:

In the 2008 Presidential campaign season, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) ran out of money in August of 2007 and went on to be the Republican nominee in August of 2008.

In the 2012 campaign cycle, Newt Gingrich not only lost his money but his whole staff quit on him. He went on regroup and win South Carolina.

Perry and McCain did not see the staff departures. Most of Perry’s folks are saying they still stand with him because of passion, not money.

He needs a path forward and that may be hard for him since he did not get a seat at the first debate. But given McCain and Gingrich, I would not count him out.

McCain was able to overcome his predicament by going on to win New Hampshire. Perry’s campaign has their sights set on Iowa.

Presidential campaign history is littered with candidates who, after financial woes, retreated to focus on a single state, most notably John McCain in 2008, who went on to win the GOP nomination after winning in New Hampshire. For Perry, most believe that state must be Iowa.

“Bottom line is to make sure we get him in place to win Iowa,” Barbour said of their strategy, “or at least get a top-three finish in Iowa.”

Tuesday, Governor Perry tweeted:

Several of his campaign staffers appeared to be upbeat and claimed they were pressing forward nonetheless. Legal Insurrection spoke to other members of Perry’s campaign staff who mirrored the attitudes beneath.

At least one big donor is chipping in to help. While 100 g’s is a start, it’s going to take a lot more to keep Governor Perry in the race.

Follow Kemberlee Kaye on Twitter @kemberleekaye

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