Finance Reports Offer Insight Into GOP Field

Six months before the first votes are cast, Republican presidential contenders are disclosing how much cash they have available -- and how much debt they have to overcome -- to win the GOP's nomination.

Federal election reports are due Friday and are expected to offer an early glimpse into how viable each of the 2012 candidates remains. Some, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, have already trumpeted early figures while others, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have yet to show their hands.

By the end of Friday, a pecking order in a topsy-turvy field could become clearer through required quarterly filings with the Federal Election Commission. While money doesn't directly translate into votes, it does pay for crucial television ads to introduce the candidates, polling to measure whether the messages are working and staff to run the mechanics of a national election.

The numbers are one of the first previews of the campaigns' strength as they look to take on President Barack Obama's well-funded re-election bid. On Wednesday, Obama's team announced it had raised $86 million during the second quarter for his campaign and the Democratic Party.

Ahead of the filings, many of the Republican candidates offered highlights from their fundraising figures. Front-runner Romney already had announced he raised more than $18 million in the past three months and his campaign has $12.6 million in the bank for the primary.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty reported raising $4.2 million from April through June. His campaign didn't disclose how much of that was left, or how much of it was available.

Georgia businessman Herman Cain raised almost $2.5 million in the first weeks of his presidential bid, but some of that came out of his own pocket.

Gingrich, whose campaign fundraising team resigned as part of a larger staff exodus, has yet to hint how much money -- and debt -- he has for his struggling campaign. Although he is a giant among Republicans, he relied on large donors to fund a network of nonprofits, for-profit companies and think tanks that lent him a public platform since leaving Congress in 1999.

When Gingrich's inner circle resigned over disagreements with the candidate, the then-hobbling campaign carried more than $1 million in red ink.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost his 2006 re-election in Pennsylvania as he eyed a White House run, also was expected to show his first signs of campaign fundraising potential. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a tea party favorite, was expected to report a strong fundraising quarter.

And Rep. Michele Bachmann, another tea party favorite from Minnesota who raised $13.5 million for her own campaign in the 2010 election, was set to release numbers that would preview her fundraising potential on a national scale.

Aides said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has collected $4.1 million, but as much as half of that could be money he's put into the campaign himself.

Although Huntsman declared himself a candidate in June, he did not file his official paperwork with the FEC until July. That means the first disclosures from the Huntsman camp will be on Oct. 15, when the July-through-September quarterly report is due.

And on the sidelines of the presidential race, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's political action committee reported raising about $1.7 million during the first six months of the year -- and spent almost as much, about $1.6 million. The 2008 vice presidential pick has flirted with a White House run and has said she plans to make a decision later this summer.

Should she run, Palin could not simply shift SarahPAC's $1.4 million dollars in the bank into a presidential race.