GOP Presidential Hopefuls Lag In Fundraising

President Obama's re-election camp reports that it raised more than $86 million dollars this spring. That means Obama has raised more than twice the total raised by all the Republican hopefuls who've reported their results — combined. It appears, for Republicans, the big money is holding back — perhaps for another contender like Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

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DON GONYEA: And this is NPR's Don Gonyea.

The disparity between the president's re-election fundraising and the combined dollar totals of all of his potential Republican challengers has many wondering whether the GOP field has fully formed yet.

Ed Rogers is a longtime Republican strategist not attached to any campaign this cycle.

Mr. ED ROGERS (Republican Strategist): There's no one candidate that has captured sort of the spirit and the ideological sentiment of the party right now.

GONYEA: Some like Michele Bachmann have energized the Tea Party, while Mitt Romney does well among traditional pro-business Republicans, but no one seems to be the total package. Romney is considered the frontrunner, but he's far from dominating the field.

In New Hampshire, GOP activist Ovide Lamontagne says he expects some new candidates, big names to get in. He thinks Rudy Giuliani is more likely to run than, say, Sarah Palin, and then, there's the person who's generating the most speculation at this point: Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Mr. OVIDE LAMONTAGNE (Republican Activist): I had an opportunity to speak with him over the weekend. He called me here in New Hampshire, and my sense of it, without getting into the details of our conversation, is that he's trying to discern whether or not he can put together the resources as well as the team to run a viable and ultimately winning campaign.

GONYEA: In Rick Perry's home state, Wayne Slater is a political columnist for The Dallas Morning News. He says the question of money seems to be the only thing keeping the Texas governor from making a final decision.

Mr. WAYNE SLATER (Columnist, The Dallas Morning News): I think, by all indication, talking to folks around him, the real question is, frankly, of a almost mundane logistical one: Can he be confident that he's going to have 200 or 300 bundlers? These are the rich folks who gather in, you know, who can gather 100,000, 200, $250,000 a piece for a presidential race.

GONYEA: Meanwhile, Ed Rogers says it's all made for a slow-moving political season for the GOP, even though time is of the essence if they hope to defeat President Obama next year. Rogers says it's not good to start out so far behind in the money game and surprising when the incumbent seems clearly vulnerable.

Mr. ROGERS: I wish I could say otherwise, but in politics, money matters. And very often, the candidate with the most money wins.

GONYEA: And for now, the fundraising totals released this week show that there are plenty of big-money Republican contributors who are still sitting on the sidelines still waiting for someone they regard as a potential winner to emerge.

As for the huge fundraising advantage the president's campaign enjoys over Republicans at this point, Rogers has this to say:

Mr. ROGERS: That's discouraging. We shouldn't pretend like it doesn't matter, or we shouldn't just try to dismiss it. We should acknowledge, hey, we got a problem, which means we got to do a better job of something.

GONYEA: That something might be a new candidate like Rick Perry, or it might be rallying around one of the existing candidates, helping someone break from the pack and start looking like a winner.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington.

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