Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney raised $1.8 million during the past three months, outpacing other potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates and indicating that his national profile appears to be growing.
Mr. Romney’s political action committee, Free and Strong America PAC, raised roughly $3.4 million in the past 17 months, including the $1.8 million in the second quarter, for a total of $6.2 million since 2008, according to official Federal Election Commission numbers posted Thursday.
His second-quarter numbers eclipsed those of Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice-presidential candidate. Mrs. Palin’s SarahPAC raised $866,000 over the April-to-June period for a total of $3.4 million in 18 months.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s second-quarter haul of $723,500 nearly matched Mrs. Palin’s and gave him $2.5 million in the first half of the year, according to his Freedom First PAC. He has roughly $940,000 in cash on hand.
Republican political strategist Elliott Curson said Mr. Romney’s numbers are no surprise. He said Americans who meet Mr. Romney realize that he best understands the country’s economic problems and how to fix them.
“He’s doing what George [H.W.] Bush did, going around the country meeting people and helping them,” Mr. Curson said. “No other candidate can do that so well.”
GOP strategist Karen Hanretty, now with the Washington-based Qorvis group, said Mr. Romney’s success might be a case of “buyer’s remorse by Republicans” for not making him the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, considering his experience as governor and his business knowledge that might have helped the U.S. through the recession.
She said Mrs. Palin is still a contender, but the bigger issue is whether she will run in 2012.
“She is now in a role that appears meant for her - advocating for disaffected conservatives who believe the Democratic Party has left them.”
Ms. Hanretty said Mr. Pawlenty’s numbers were surprising. Though he doesn’t have big name recognition, Mr. Pawlenty rates higher in polls than potential dark horse GOP candidates Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Mr. Daniels’ Aiming Higher PAC is dedicated to helping state GOP lawmakers and hopefuls. The PAC reportedly had roughly $728,000 before Indiana’s midterm primaries in May.
Mr. Pawlenty donated roughly $84,000 in the quarter, including money to Rep. Joe Wilson and House candidate Trey Gowdy. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, also gave money to the two South Carolina Republicans.
Mr. Huckabee’s Huck PAC raised more than $258,000 for the quarter, for a total of $506,279 this year and $1.3 million for the cycle.
Despite the smaller numbers, Huck PAC leads the others in donors and disbursement percentage.
In the past quarter, the PAC gave out $70,000, or roughly 30 percent of the money, to candidates in at least 14 states including Arkansas, California and Florida. In addition, Huck PAC’s 29,195 donors this election cycle is roughly 4,000 more than in SarahPAC, according to Mr. Huckabee’s group.
“This clearly shows Huck PAC has held true to its stated mission,” said executive director Hogan Gidley. “While the robo calls and radio ads we cut for our candidates aren’t as flashy to many in the elite media, the campaigns we’ve helped sure appreciate them and understand their value.”