- The Washington Times - Monday, July 4, 2011

As expected, Mitt Romney is steamrolling all other GOP presidential hopefuls in the dash for cash, according to second-quarter fundraising reports trickling in. But the entire Republican field is pulling in less than it did in 2008, and the eventual nominee will almost certainly be left in the dust financially by President Obama, whose campaign is shooting to raise $1 billion or more.

Mr. Romney’s campaign is expected to report a second-quarter haul of between $15 million and $20 million, while Mr. Obama’s re-election effort has a target of $60 million. Final second-quarter reports, covering April 1 to June 30, must be filed with the Federal Election Commission by July 15.

Even if Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who spent Monday marching in several Fourth of July parades in New Hampshire, reports only $15 million, that will still be more than three times as much as his nearest competitors. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. — who also took part in a New Hampshire Fourth of July parade on Monday — raked in about $4.1 million, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty amassed about $4.2 million, according to the Associated Press.

But the biggest surprise may be Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a tea party favorite who surprised political analysts in 2008 with strong primary showings and even stronger fundraising tallies. In the second quarter, Mr. Paul pulled in nearly $4.5 million, according to a campaign press release.

Mr. Paul attributed his financial prowess to the fact that Republican voters now realize that much of what he preached in 2008 — such as the need to dramatically reduce government spending or risk a debt crisis — has turned out to be right.

“I’m the only candidate who can say that I predicted our country’s current economic troubles,” he said in a written statement to supporters. Mr. Paul will return to Iowa on Wednesday to resume campaigning. Fox News reported that he spent the Fourth of July at a family barbecue.

Meanwhile, businessman and radio talk-show host Herman Cain raised about $2.5 million, according to his campaign. He told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto last week that he had to “prime the pump” from his personal bank account, though he wouldn’t reveal exactly how much of his own money he dumped into campaign coffers.

“I’m not rich,” he said during his Fox News appearance. “I won’t have more money than any of the candidates … but we are building this campaign team like I would a business. And that is, we are building it so far with no debt.”

Mr. Cain, who spoke Monday at a tea party event in Philadelphia before heading to New Hampshire to throw out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game, wasn’t the only candidate to dig into his own pockets to pad fundraising numbers. Mr. Huntsman also used personal funds to bulk up his campaign’s war chest, the AP reported, though it is not clear exactly how much.

The campaigns of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania had not released second-quarter numbers as of Monday afternoon.

All three spent Independence Day in Iowa. In addition to taking part in a parade, Mrs. Bachmann spoke an at evangelical Christian church in Waukee on Sunday, the Des Moines Register reported. In her speech, Mrs. Bachmann largely avoided politics and focused on faith.

“If we humble ourselves, and pray and confess our sins … [God] will heal our land. And we will have a new day,” she said, according to the Register.

When the final fundraising numbers are revealed, Mr. Gingrich’s numbers will likely come under the most scrutiny. Several key campaign workers resigned last month, citing Mr. Gingrich’s supposed lack of interest in fundraising as one of the reasons they cut ties with the Georgia Republican, who has since retooled his staff and soldiered on.

He’s also come under fire from many fellow Republicans for criticizing aspects of the GOP’s “Path to Prosperity” budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Mr. Gingrich is also floundering in the polls. A recent Fox News survey found that only 3 percent of likely Republican primary voters backed him as their first choice.

Mr. Romney, on the other hand, has coupled strong fundraising numbers with equally strong performance in the polls. He leads the pack with 18 percent of the vote, the Fox News poll showed. Texas Gov. Rick Perry came in second with 13 percent, even though Mr. Perry hasn’t yet thrown his hat into the ring. Mrs. Bachmann came in third with 11 percent, followed by former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who, like Mr. Perry, has yet to enter the race.

Mr. Paul and Mr. Cain pulled in 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively, with Mr. Pawlenty, Mr. Santorum and Mr. Huntsman joining Mr. Gingrich at the bottom with 3 percent or less.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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