Mitt Romney leads GOP rivals in 2012 fundraising

Holly Bailey

Mitt Romney tallied $18.3 million in campaign donations over the last three months, putting him well ahead of his GOP rivals in early 2012 presidential fundraising.

The former Massachusetts governor raised more than four times as much as Ron Paul, who reported $4.5 million in contributions, and Tim Pawlenty, who raised $4.2 million. Jon Huntsman took in $4.1 million—though the former Utah governor reportedly contributed $2 million to his own campaign.

Herman Cain raised $2.5 million, while Newt Gingrich raised $2 million—though, according to Politico, the former House speaker is at least $1 million in debt and has just $225,000 in the bank.

Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann have yet to release their second-quarter fund-raising totals. According to Bachmann's campaign, she's likely to wait until July 15--the date financial reports are due at the Federal Election Commission.

According to the Romney campaign, the ex-governor spent just under $6 million in the last three months, leaving him with $12.6 million in the bank. That's a major lead over his GOP rivals, but it's far less than where his supporters initially suggested he would be at this point.

As The Ticket previously reported, Romney told donors in April he'd set an early fundraising goal of $50 million--though his campaign later insisted he had meant to reflect the entire nomination fight, not just the second quarter. But unnamed Romney aides and donors continued to float big numbers, suggesting as late as last month Romney's second quarter total would near $40 million. Last week, a Romney aide, who declined to be named, lowered those expectations in an interview with The Ticket, suggesting those initial totals had never been serious.

Romney's $18.3 million is less than the $23 million he'd raised at this point four years ago. But unlike the 2008 race, the ex-governor has a bit of financial backup. Per CNN, Restore Our Future, a so-called super PAC, raising cash to boost Romney's bid for the nomination, raised $12 million over the last three months.

While Romney remains in a better financial position than his rivals, his numbers didn't exactly provide the shock-and-awe effect that some had expected. A big unknown is whether his somewhat diminished cash showing will be viewed as an opening for other Republicans eying the race, like Rick Perry.