WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney leads all Republicans in the contest for campaign cash, cementing his front-runner status among contenders hoping to go up against President Barack Obama in 2012.
Romney, who spent weeks on the road collecting pledges and checks, added more than $18.4 million to his account during the April-to-June fundraising period. He has $12.7 million in the bank.
The former Massachusetts governor outpaced his closest rival to announce numbers so far, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, by a 3-1 ratio in banked cash. Yet he still came up short for his campaign's internal $50 million goal for the first half of this year.
Bachmann, a darling among the tea party, said she would report $3.6 million in the bank, a blend of fundraising and a transfer from her congressional campaign fund. She brought in $4.2 million since formally beginning her campaign in June.
Tim Pawlenty, the former two-term governor of Minnesota, raised about $4 million in the period and has about $1.4 million available for his primary contest.
The reports also detailed problems for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose campaign was carrying more than $1 million in debt. The former Georgia lawmaker raised $2.1 million for the quarter but spent $1.8 million. Gingrich listed about $322,000 in the bank.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum reported taking in $582,000, with less than $225,000 banked for the primaries.
The numbers are one of the first measures of the campaigns' early strength as they look to take on Obama's well-funded re-election bid. On Wednesday, Obama's team announced it had raised $86 million during the second quarter of the year for his campaign and the Democratic Party.
Georgia businessman Herman Cain brought in almost $2.6 million in the first weeks of his White House bid, but the talk show host and former Godfathers Pizza CEO banked less than the $500,000 he loaned himself.
Rep. Ron Paul, the Texan with a strong following among the party's libertarian wing, reported $2.9 million in the bank and said he moved more than $1 million from his House campaign committee. He has announced he will not seek another term.
Aides said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has collected $4.1 million, but as much as half of that could be money he has put into the campaign himself. Huntsman declared himself a candidate in June, so the first disclosures from his camp will be on Oct. 15, when the July-through-September report is due.