With an outside group helping him, the candidate's own fundraising is only half the story
Thanks to recent developments in campaign law and regulation, the 2012 election will be like a phone booth with money swirling around in it and all of the candidates, including President Obama, grabbing for as many dollars as they can.
(More specifically, due to restrictions on coordination, it will work like this: Candidates will stand to the side, averting their eyes and politely asking donors for $2,500 at a time, the legal cap for giving, while the candidates' former advisers and fundraisers enter the booth, grabbing the cash, and not saying a word to the candidates about it. Winks, thumbs up, and long-range high-fives may or may not be exchanged. No one will talk about what happens in the booth, but everyone will see how many fistfuls of cash emerge, because those fistfuls will eventually be disclosed in Federal Election Commission filings.)
Mitt Romney is leading the money grab, hands down.
His campaign announced today that he has raised $18.25 million in the last three months, for a total haul of $18.8 million this election cycle. While not every campaign has yet disclosed its latest figures, Romney's nearest cash competitor is Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who took in $4.5 million. Tim Pawlenty ($4.2 million) and Jon Huntsman ($4.1 million), trail. It's safe to assume no other candidate has come close to Romney's gigantic load of money: Had anyone approached it -- or simply known such an approach was plausible, when the fundraising quarter closed last week -- he/she would have told every reporter in sight.