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Mitt Romney remains fundraising king, but look who's hard on his heels

Mitt Romney was both the big fundraiser and the big spender in January, in his quest for GOP's presidential crown. Despite his big war chest, he lags Rick Santorum by 10 points nationally.

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to employees at Meridian Bioscience in Cincinnati, Ohio, Monday, Feb. 20.

Gerald Herbert/AP

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Mitt Romney raised more money ($6.5 million) and spent more money ($19 million) in January than any of the other Republican presidential contenders. By the end of the month, he had won two of four contests. Yet three weeks into February – and two weeks after Rick Santorum trounced him in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri – Mr. Romney's campaign appears on the edge of crisis.

Romney now trails Mr. Santorum among Republican voters nationally by 10 points, 36 percent to 26 percent, according the latest Gallup daily tracking poll, released Tuesday morning. In his native state of Michigan, which holds its primary in a week, Romney trails Santorum by an average of three points in the latest polls.

Romney is leading in Arizona, the other Feb. 28 primary. A win there would ease the blow of a Michigan loss. But if he loses both, watch out. Talk of a brokered or contested convention and the search for a GOP “savior” to get into the race – all still idle chatter – could burst forth into full-blown panic by the Republican establishment.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. If anything, the race for cash has shown that money isn’t everything in politics. All a candidate needs is enough – not necessarily the most – to be competitive.

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