Mitt Romney's new fundraising totals may indeed lead the crop of Republican presidential candidates, but those numbers are nonetheless below expectations and causing concern among Republican leaders.

Jonathan Martin of Politico wrote Wednesday, "Mitt Romney disclosed today that he raised $18.25 million in his initial fundraising report, but his goal for the first half of 2011 was $50 million, according to an email sent by a Romney consultant to a potential state finance aide at the end of last year." Combined with the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, that brings Romney's de facto fundraising take for the quarter to about $30 million.

(The "Romney consultant" Martin references is Utah-based Don Stirling — the same Don Stirling whose 2006 email sparked a firestorm about perceived ties between Team Romney and the LDS Church.)

Jeanne Cummings wrote Thursday for Bloomberg about how Romney's fundraising total is symptomatic of a broader malady affecting the entire Republican Party.

"This month, just one Republican — Mitt Romney — announced that he had raised close to the range of money achieved by candidates from both parties at this point in the last presidential election cycle. Still, his $18.3 million take fell short of the $23 million he reported on his first disclosure form in 2007 and below the $26 million and $25 million raised at the start of that cycle by Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, respectively. The message from the first round of Republican disclosures for the 2012 cycle is that unlike prior campaigns, when candidates strove to post big numbers early to intimidate rivals, the early reports provide evidence of weakness."

In a story posted Thursday on Politico, Martin and Alexander Burns hammer home the point that while Romney's financials lead the Republican field, failing to hit the aforementioned $50 million goal is a big red flag for GOP fundraising in general because Pres. Barack Obama and his prolific fundraising machine await whichever Republican challenger emerges from the crowded primary field.

"Obama officials have already disclosed that they had 493,697 individual donors give to the re-elect this quarter. That's almost twice the number of donors they had accumulated through the first two quarters of 2007, by which point they had raised $55.7 million for their Democratic primary battle. … Republicans have long anticipated being out-gunned by Obama on the fundraising front, but the breadth of the disparity is now coming into plainer sight—and it has some party veterans worried about what they see as a lack of urgency over the cash gap."

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