BY BETH REINHARD
Ahem. Will the people wringing their hands over Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio's alleged loss of momentum please direct their attention to his latest fundraising report?
Rubio announced Monday that he raised a whopping $4.5 million in the past three months, blowing by the $4.3 million record-setting haul by rival Charlie Crist at the start of the race and, mostly likely, quashing chatter that the former House speaker had fallen off the map as the governor hogged the television cameras covering the Gulf Coast oil spill.
"There's been too much photo-opping and not enough real leadership," Rubio said in a phone call with bloggers and reporters. "The spine and the backbone of our fundraising effort is small donors ... grass roots donors who are also voters."
Rubio's new fundraising report is his first since he squeezed Crist out of the Republican primary. Now running as an independent, Crist has not yet released his latest fundraising report, which is due to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.
Among the Democratic contenders, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami raised $1 million in the three-month period, while real estate billionaire Jeff Greene is unreservedly bankrolling his own campaign.
Rubio did not disclose his cash on hand Monday. He had nearly $4 million in the bank at the end of March, compared with $7.6 million for Crist and about $3.8 million for Meek.
Rubio's campaign said 99 percent of its 75,000 donors have not given the maximum amount, meaning they can be tapped again before the Nov. 2 election.
The detailed fundraising reports will reveal where the latest dollars are coming from. Wall Street has been one of Rubio's top sources, the Center for Responsive Politics said, at a time when he has opposed tougher financial regulation by Congress.
The single biggest donor was hedge fund Elliott Management, whose founder, Paul Singer, hosted a fundraiser in New York for Rubio and other Senate candidates two weeks ago.
Even Crist's former right-hand man, Sen. George LeMieux, recently gave Rubio $2,400 from his political committee.
Rubio is scheduled to unveil an economic plan in Tampa today.
Times/Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.