Relying overwhelmingly on people making the maximum allowable contributions, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney amassed an $18 million campaign war chest that dwarfs that of other Republican presidential candidates, financial disclosures released late Friday show.
Yet two firebrands mounted last-minute campaigns that seemed to effortlessly raise funds in small increments in weeks while requiring little spending, leaving significant amounts stored away as candidates prepare for the Iowa straw poll next month.
Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning Republican from Texas, raised $4.5 million and has $3 million on hand. Rep. Michele Bachmann, his second-term colleague in the House, focusing all resources in a newly created presidential campaign rather than her House vehicle, was in a similar position.
Though former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlentyâ€™s haul of $4.5 million beat that of Mrs. Bachmann, also from that state, he seemed to burn up most of the take as soon as it landed in his bank account, leaving him with less money heading into the third quarter.
History strongly favors politicians with recent executive experience over legislators from the lower chamber; the only House member who has ever leapt to the presidency was James A. Garfield in 1880.
And early financial measures of support for other official Republican candidates were not bright.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had a poor showing of $580,000 raised and $230,000 in the bank. Wealthy businessman Herman Cain raised $2 million, but spent nearly all of it, and loaned his campaign half a million dollars in personal funds in order to have cash on hand.
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