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Perry posts $17m in fund-raising

By Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / October 6, 2011

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Don't count him out yet.

Rick Perry may have suffered some recent stumbles on the campaign trail and dropped in the polls, but his strong fund-raising over the last several weeks should quiet some of the doubters and solidify his position as perhaps the strongest challenger to the presumptive front-runner, Mitt Romney.

Perry's campaign reported yesterday that the longtime Texas governor hauled in an impressive $17 million since entering the race 49 days ago. That sum dwarfs the $11 million to $13 million that Romney reported raising in the previous 92 days.

Perry's robust fund-raising gives his campaign a much-needed boost after several weeks in which he was criticized by Republicans for faltering in debates and excoriated for his positions on Social Security and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Perry's campaign said 51 percent of the governor's 22,000 donors in year's third quarter live outside of Texas, a sign he is tapping into money networks beyond his home state. He now has $15 million cash on hand, with all but $50,000 of that sum going toward the primary.

"The generous contributions from Americans across the nation prove the overwhelming support for Governor Perry's principled, conservative leadership and vision to get America working again," Rob Johnson, Perry's campaign manager, said in a statement today. "Governor Perry deeply appreciates the energetic support and hard work of the thousands of Republican volunteers and activists who've helped us build a strong and growing organization in just seven weeks."

Romney's fund-raising in the quarter, while solid, represented a drop-off from the $18.2 million he brought in during the previous three months. But Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, said that "we feel good in the strength of our finance team and the fact that we are adding new people every day."

Representative Ron Paul of Texas reported yesterday that he raised more than $8 million in the quarter from more than 100,000 donors - more than five times the number of donors who gave to the Perry campaign.

"The amount and nature of donations to Ron Paul proves his fund-raising prowess and also demonstrates in real numbers the grass-roots support Dr. Paul receives from average Americans," his campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, said in a statement.

Romney, meanwhile, has moved quickly to lock down the wealthy Republicans who were pushing Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey to seek the nomination. Within hours of Christie announcing his decision not to run on Tuesday, some of his major backers announced that they would support Romney instead.

"I want you to know that Governor Romney just called me a little while ago, and I've sworn my allegiance to him," Ken Langone, the billionaire cofounder of Home Depot, said in an interview with Charlie Rose on Tuesday night. Langone was among those pressing hardest for a Christie candidacy, telling Rose, "I did everything but kiss him on the lips, OK?"

Langone said he had also met with Romney recently and told him he was his second choice. "I said, 'If Governor Christie doesn't run, Governor Romney, I'm with you,'." Langone said.

Other prominent Christie backers who have said they are now supporting Romney include Georgette Mosbacher, a wealthy cosmetics executive, and John Catsimatidis, a New York grocery store magnate.

Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com.

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