“It’s a barometer, but it’s only a barometer,” he said, adding that the big task in front of the candidate is to make sure he meets with as many potential donors as possible, so they can “see what he stands for and take their own personal measure of him.”
“That makes it an arduous task when you haven’t gone through the cycle before,” he said. “Romney has and so he’s been at it for a long time. I have great respect for Gov. Romney, but I think he has a tougher time winning against Obama than Jon Huntsman will.”
At the same time, some of the big bundlers from prior campaigns have yet to join anyone in the field, and some expect that many are waiting to see whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry enters the race.
“A lot of people are still waiting,” said Fred Malek, a bundler for Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee in 2008. “There’s plenty of time left to make a contribution and to help raise money.”
Mr. Malek also warned that second-quarter financing numbers could be misleading — especially since some of the candidates, such as Mr. Huntsman, just got into the race.
“Some have more established networks, others are just building theirs,” he said. “I think the third quarter might be more meaningful because of that.”
After he took in more than $10 million in donation pledges during his one-day fundraising kickoff last month, Mr. Romney is setting the pace for the field.
But money alone isn’t enough.
During his presidential bid in 2008, he raised more than $107 million, but dropped out of the race after a disappointing showing on Super Tuesday, when Mr. McCain cemented his spot as the party’s front-runner.
The time, Mr. Romney has earned support from some of his 2008 foes.
Ms. Kilberg raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Mr. McCain and planned to support Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Two hours after Mr. Barbour informed her he would not run, she received another phone call from Mr. Romney, who asked for her support.
“Mitt’s message is resonating and continues to bring significant support to him,” Mr. Eisenberg said. “He knows that this is about jobs, economy and our growing debt, and he brings private-sector and public-sector success to address these issues.”
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