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Presidential election: Mitt Romney top GOP fundraiser, but behind 2007 pace

Mitt Romney took in more campaign funds than any other Republican during the second quarter of 2011, but not as much as he raised during the same period in the presidential election four years ago.

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who leads fundraising efforts toward the 2012 presidential election, works the crowd at a Fourth of July parade in Amherst, N.H.

Jim Cole/AP

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So far, Mitt Romney is the champion Republican fundraiser of the 2012 presidential cycle. On Wednesday, he reported raising $18.25 million in the second quarter of 2011 – all of it for the primaries – with $12.6 million in cash on hand. That’s far more than any other GOP candidate in the field raised, of the numbers released to date.

“Voters are responding to Mitt Romney’s message that President Obama’s policies have failed and that we need new leadership in Washington,” Romney finance chair Spencer Zwick said in a statement. “Our fundraising for the second quarter represents the strong support Mitt Romney has across the country.”

Indeed, Romney’s second-quarter take solidifies his position as the early frontrunner for the GOP nomination. But he failed to match his second quarter fundraising total from his last presidential run in 2007, when he brought in $23.5 million. That figure included $2.5 million of personal funds. This time, he has yet to self-fund. So the real apples-to apples comparison is $18.25 million versus $21 million.

Why the decline? The down economy is certainly a factor, political analysts say. But there’s also still a sense that the field is unsettled. Texas Gov. Rick Perry still might jump in. And with so many other competitors, donors could be hanging back to see who develops momentum heading into early caucuses and primaries.

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