Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has long had the profile and political savvy to be a formidable general-election challenger. Wednesday’s financial report proves he also has the fundraising chops necessary to take on Obama. With the help of well-heeled conservative outside groups like Americans Crossroads, he could even nullify Obama’s presumed financial edge in the fall, despite the president’s own lofty fundraising goals.
“You won’t match [Obama] dollar-for-dollar, but these fundraising reports now are indicative we will be able to fight a very competitive campaign in the battleground states,” said Ron Bonjean, a GOP strategist. “The Republican nominee, which looks like it will be Romney, will be able to compete very effectively against the Obama campaign.”
To put Romney’s numbers in perspective, most of his GOP foes—with the exception of Texas Gov. Rick Perry—will probably report raising less money total to date than the $19 million Romney had on hand to start the year. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, for instance, raised less than $3 million through September, and even a December surge in the polls brought in only an additional $10 million, according to the candidate.
Perry raised eyebrows by reporting a $17 million fundraising boomlet after entering the race, but his badly slumping effort is unlikely to come close to matching the $24 million Romney raised in the final quarter of the year. Other candidates, like former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and onetime U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, will also likely lag far behind.
“I think it’s becoming very obvious to Republican primary voters and to the Republican financial community that he’s going to be the eventual nominee,” Bonjean said. “So you see the spigot now turning on.”