Jeb Bush Holds Biggest Pot Of Gold Among GOP Presidential Contenders Presidential campaigns filed their first fundraising reports of the 2016 election. NPR examines what the filings reveal about the Republican campaigns.

Jeb Bush Holds Biggest Pot Of Gold Among GOP Presidential Contenders

Jeb Bush Holds Biggest Pot Of Gold Among GOP Presidential Contenders

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Presidential campaigns filed their first fundraising reports of the 2016 election. NPR examines what the filings reveal about the Republican campaigns.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If you like spreadsheets and politics, well, last night may as well have been Christmas. It was the deadline for presidential campaigns to file their first batch of fundraising numbers with the Federal Election Commission. We'll start our look at the numbers on the Republican side. Here's NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Right now, Jeb Bush has the biggest pot of gold in the GOP field - some $11 million he's raised on his own, plus a super PAC backing him that's collected more than $100 million. Bush's money is coming from big fundraising events and big donors. Having lots of cash can be a big advantage, but as Bush himself said at a candidate forum a few months back, he hasn't exactly scared away the competition. Bush joked that there are, like, 95 candidates in the field.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...By any stretch of the imagination...

JEB BUSH: I don't see any coronation coming my way, trust me. (Laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, you know.

GONYEA: Well behind Bush but still with plenty of money are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Each of their campaigns has raised millions, and each has a super Pac that has brought in a far greater amount. The overall tally for Cruz tops $52 million, for Rubio, more than $40 million. Of course, past elections provide plenty of evidence that cash doesn't guarantee success. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has raised more than $10 million with no super PAC help at this point. Carson and Cruz have spent a lot of money to raise a lot of money - phone calls, emails and direct mail. Nancy Bocskor is a veteran fundraiser who now teaches at George Washington University.

NANCY BOCSKOR: In direct mail, there's always a larger start-up cost 'cause you're doing list acquisition, printing of envelopes and just setting the machinery in place looking for those few nuggets.

GONYEA: Those nuggets, she says, are hard to find, but.

BOCSKOR: Once I know somebody has given $25, chances are, they're going to give $25 again and again and again.

GONYEA: Much of the huge GOP field is still struggling to raise cash, then there's Donald Trump. Put him in his own category. He's raised practically nothing, but, well, there's this.

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DONALD TRUMP: I don't need anybody's money. I'm using my own money. I'm not using the lobbyists, I'm not using donors, I don't care. I'm really rich. I'll show you that in a second.

GONYEA: And, no matter how much candidates raise individually, these latest numbers make clear - super PAC money will play a huge role and perhaps have an outsized impact. Don Gonyea, NPR News.

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