Michele Bachmann has caused a mystery and a feeding frenzy in the press. What's her number?
Not her phone number. Her bank balance.
It is the big question in Washington and in political circles across the nation — how much money has Michele Bachmann raised? Sources close to the campaign say she'll come in second. Romney has raised around $18 million. The next highest known number is Ron Paul, who is slightly south of $5 million with Tim Pawlenty barely trailing him. Then there's the big name with only $225,000.00.
But Bachmann's lead is going to surprise everybody. And her rise is Herman Cain's fall. This week in the horserace, we see some real shake up — probably the first legitimate shake up since the New Hampshire Primary.
Rick Perry looks set to enter the race and Tim Pawlenty is pulling some surprises out of his hat that may pay off. And sooner than I expected, the pernicious "Mormon" issue is raising its head, forcing us to confront it.
We'll get into all of that in this week's horserace on the road to the White House.
There is little that needs to be said about Michele Bachmann other than this: she has had the perfect week.
Bachmann is now the front runner for the anti-Romney wing of the primary coalition. The only thing that can knock her off her pedestal right now is an unforced error or a Governor from Texas.
Herman Cain is having a rough ride. His fundraising is around $2 million — though to his credit that's better than Gingrich's fundraising. He lost another staffer in Iowa. At least he's going on the Daily Show. If he can one up Jon Stewart, that might give him some momentum. But it is very hard to do. Stewart, after all, controls the show.
Things are not looking good for Herman Cain.
If it were not for Newt Gingrich's paltry fundraising, Herman Cain would be at the bottom of the top tier candidates. It is devastating that Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, would raise less money than Cain, a man with no prior political experience.
Even worse, Gingrich raised $2 million, but he spent $3 million, leaving just $225,000.00 in the bank and lots of debt.
The Gingrich campaign has ended. Someone just needs to tell him.
Jon Huntsman's campaign comes in 5th in fundraising with money just north of $4 million. The question, though, is how much of that is his money. The actual details have not been released. Huntsman continues to pursue a strategy of getting elitist opinion makers on his side, but I don't think that will help him this year. He's going to have to take out Romney. And right now, Romney is running strong in New Hampshire and elsewhere.
Huntsman does not fit the anti-Romney mold as well as someone like Bachmann. I also think the chances of splitting off cross over voters is less and less viable for Huntsman.
From his statements thus far, I suspect McCotter is running to be a spoiler against Romney more than he is running to be President. He's not going to be the nominee. His pro-union baggage is already getting him attacked by right to work folks. He's got no long term viability as a Presidential candidate because his ability to impact others in the race.
I'm going to keep up here what I said last week about Sarah Palin. I do not, at this point, see signs that Sarah Palin is getting into the race for President. Considering, however, that she was in New Hampshire when MItt Romney announced and Iowa when Michele Bachmann announced, I definitely think Palin is trying to keep the window open to get in if her polling changes.
Right now, if I had to guess, I think she is not running for anything except continued relevance. Palin can legitimately shape up to be the king maker. I continue to dwell on her comments during the bus tour that she wants Rick Perry to run.
I'll repeat my prior view on Ron Paul. He will not be the nominee, but his ability to excite a base of youthful voters is something that continues to impress a lot of people who should know better.
Pawlenty's numbers are disappointing to a lot of people, but he just picked up Mike Huckabee's daughter in Iowa and a slew of legislators in Florida. He's also got some traction in South Carolina with key supporters. Pawlenty's fundraising surprised many in that he came in less than $5 million, but he is right about where Huckabee was at this time in 2007. The problem is, he's no Mike Huckabee.
His slow and steady strategy continues to pay dividends and I think it is wise that he is ignoring Michele Bachmann for now. But he can only do that for so long and will now be outmatched by her in cash. More so, a Perry entry hurts Pawlenty.
We need to slow down the Perry train. He is not running. At least, he is not running yet. Rick Perry may very well get in. I hear more and more that he will. But a lot of people are getting their egos bruised because Perry is not doing the requisite courting of people who presume to be someone who must be courted. It is because (1) Perry isn't in the race and (2) a lot of the complainers have heightened senses of self-worth.
If Perry gets in, Bachmann and Pawlenty get hurt. But he's not in. Yet.
The Wall Street Journal's Political Diary flagged this quote:
"For some reason, when people talk about whether Mitt Romney's Mormonism will keep him from getting elected, the focus is almost always entirely on whether evangelicals will accept him in the primaries. In recent weeks, some commentators have noted a recent Gallup poll that shows that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to hold a candidate's Mormonism against him. ... The poll also found that independents are slightly more likely to say they will not vote for a Mormon than Republicans are. My theory is that some conservatives think that Mormons aren't Christian enough, while some liberals think they're too Christian. ... It is nice to see the stereotype of evangelicals as especially intolerant debunked. But don't the polls -- especially the numbers on independents -- mean that Romney (or [Jon] Huntsman) could be a risky general-election candidate? It is probably worth thinking through since Romney has a good shot at being the Republican nominee" -- journalist Ramesh Ponnuru blogging at nationalreview.com, July 5.
It is an issue about which Republicans must tread carefully, but still must tread. If the election were today, Romney would be the nominee. And as his money grows, the odds of him winning grow. Surprisingly though, Michele Bachmann continues to gain on him in key states. Even a new poll out of New Hampshire has Bachmann going into second place. If she can consolidate the anti-Romney faction, I think Romney loses.
The bigger issue for Romney is Rush Limbaugh. For the past several weeks, Rush has been rather critical of Romney going so far, yesterday, to say he thinks Romney is running against "us" where "us" equals "conservatives." Certainly McCain withstood Rush in 2008, but he had a different constituency on his path to victory — a constituency Romney is not assured of.
As I said last week, Romney seems capped out on support right now between 35% and 40% of the GOP primary. A divided field with many viable challengers continues to help Romney. If people start dropping out — particularly should Rick Perry get in — things change for Romney.
There is no buzz about Rick Santorum's financial numbers, just as there was no buzz about him running. This may be the last time we have him in this horserace as I do not see him being able to make a go of it. About the only question I have is who drops out first — Gingrich or Santorum.