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At midnight on Thursday, the presidential campaigns have to tally up their first financial reports of the election cycle. But since the filing deadline is not until July 15th, we are now in high season for speculation about who has enough campaign money and who does not. NPR's Peter Overby reports.
PETER OVERBY: President Obama was back in New York City this week where at three fundraisers in one evening he revived for donors their 2008 vision of what America could be.
President BARACK OBAMA: That's why I need you to campaign for me again in 2012. Our job is not done. We've got to fight for that vision.
OVERBY: The Obama operation has a vision too - $60 million by Thursday.
Professor TONY CORRADO (Political Science, Colby College): They are looking to raise a very large amount of money quickly at this point.
OVERBY: At Colby College in Maine, political scientist Tony Corrado says the president ought to be able to do it. He notes that as a non-incumbent Mr. Obama set a new standard - $745 million - to get elected.
Mr. CORRADO: He is an established fundraiser. He's the president of the United States and he has been emphasizing fundraising events where donors are giving the maximum amount of $2,500, or at least $1,000.
OVERBY: The Republican money leader most likely will turn out to be former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. He started his bid with a telethon. Friends and supporters worked their Rolodexes while Romney talked to Facebook.
Former Governor MITT ROMNEY (Republican, Massachusetts): They're collecting checks of $10, $5, all the way up to $2,500. And it would mean a great deal to me if you'd be willing to make a contribution, just today. Go on our website...
OVERBY: Nancy Bocskor is a veteran Republican fundraiser.
Ms. NANCY BOCSKOR (Republican Fundraiser): Mitt Romney's ability to put together a core group of committed fundraisers and they raise more than $10 million in one day is remarkable. He has that financial depth.
OVERBY: So this time he won't have to write personal checks to the campaign. Running In 2008, Romney put in $45 million. As yet, none of the other Republicans have signaled dramatic strength in fundraising. Just last week, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was explaining why some of his top aides aren't being paid. And on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign, two top fundraisers quit.
There are some late starters who likely won't have meaningful fundraising to report. Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah, is rich enough to pay for a substantial part of his campaign himself. He says he won't. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann will file a report for her House campaign committee. Last year, she tapped a big grassroots base and raised $13 million, a record for House candidates, but chicken feed in a presidential campaign -especially this one.
Mr. CHARLIE COOK (Political Analyst): You know, in the early stages of the campaign, there are only two metrics to look at. And one's polls and the other's money.
OVERBY: This is political analyst Charlie Cook. He's been examining campaign metrics since the 1980s. Poll numbers are really hard to affect, he says, but money?
Mr. COOK: That's one of the metrics that you can theoretically have some control over, if you really bust your tail and raise a lot of money.
OVERBY: But raising a lot of money is harder than ever this year, because the expectations have been raised so high.
Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.
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