Just how many millions has Mitt Romney raised during the last three months?
That's the question du jour looming over the Republican presidential frontrunner Thursday, the final day for candidates to raise money toward second-quarter campaign finance reports due to the Federal Election Commission by July 15.
During his first three months of presidential fundraising in 2007, Romney reported $23.4 million in donations — including $2.35 million of his own money. With Romney's previous fundraising performance serving as a baseline expectation, the Wall Street Journal reports Thursday that Romney spokeswoman Gail Gitcho "said his campaign account will report between $15 million and $20 million in contributions during the first major fund-raising quarter of the 2012 campaign."
However, the same Wall Street Journal article details why that figure doesn't tell the whole story: a super-PAC, formed by Romney backers and uninhibited by campaign donation limits, will report contributions of approximately $10 million in addition to the $15-$20 million Romney's campaign fund has raised. "Supporters of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said they have raised between $25 million and $35 million in support of his presidential ambitions … (donating) funds to two separate political accounts that take advantage of recent changes in campaign-finance laws."
Politico confirmed the Wall Street Journal reporting Thursday, and also added additional analysis: "Romney will still be the runaway frontrunner in the cash field, but it wouldn't necessarily be a prohibitive enough war chest to keep people considering campaigns of their own on the sidelines. And it also helps explain the recently-formed super-PAC formed by people with historical ties to Romney."
Writing for the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake propose that Team Romney may be reporting these numbers now as an act of gamesmanship aimed at suppressing expectations. "Romney aides insist he will raise something short of $20 million, while his rivals argue that floating such a total is an attempt by the campaign to lower expectations. (Romney did raise more than $10 million in a single day last month.)"
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