Half that amount was raised in a mere 18 days after she formally declared her candidacy, but given her reputation as a fundraising juggernaut, the bottom-line number sure does look anemic next to Romney’s $18 million haul. At Commentary, Jonathan Tobin wonders if she’s ready for prime time:
Bachmann’s excuses for this showing will center on the fact that at the start of the quarter she barely had a campaign, let alone the sort of organization that would allow her to rake in the big bucks. Her Internet fundraising operation, key to a grass roots populist candidacy such as hers, so far lacks the sophistication and promotional efforts needed for her to harness the energy of enthusiastic Tea Party and conservative Christian backers…
Having lifted herself from the second tier to leading alternative to the frontrunner in just a few weeks, Bachmann no longer has the ability to fly below the radar. The congresswoman’s fast start has set high expectations that require her to do more than just skate by. If Bachmann’s performance in the Iowa straw poll in August or the next fundraising report again falls short of what we believe a first-tier candidate must do, her hopes will suffer.
Does anyone think she’ll fall short of a first-tier showing in the straw poll? My assumption’s been that, at worst, she’ll finish second. Bachmann’s also in an odd spot in that, even after her poll surge, no one’s sure how seriously to take her yet. She could bleed lots of support if Perry/Palin get in (which, in Perry’s case, sounds likely) — or, if they don’t, she might surge as tea partiers and social cons choose her as their undisputed standard-bearer. If Romney, Pawlenty, and Ron Paul do a solid job of organizing for the straw poll, Bachmann could finish surprisingly badly there and have to endure a “paper tiger” narrative that leaves would-be donors looking for an alternative. Or maybe she’ll destroy them all and suddenly attract big money as people start to view her as a legitimate threat. Point being, except for T-Paw, no one has as much riding on Ames as Bachmann does. It’s almost pointless to look at their respective balance sheets now since things will change dramatically next month one way or another. But if you do want to look at those sheets, here’s a line to chew on: Although T-Paw outraised her for the quarter (he took in $4.5 million), he had just $1.4 million in cash on hand at the start of July before the big push to Ames. Bachmann has more than $3.6 million, although it’s not clear right now how much of that is for the primary rather than the general. Presumably most of it is, which means Pawlenty’s already in the hole money-wise while he’s trying to catch up in the polls. (Speaking of being in the hole, a factoid from Matt Lewis: Gingrich’s campaign is more than a million dollars in debt — and half of that amount is due to chartering private planes.)
Lest you think Bachmann’s not serious about the nomination, here’s CNN’s report today about her leaving her church in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod last month before her official announcement. Per Lutheran tradition, WELS names the Papacy as the Antichrist; Bachmann, presumably fearing a Rev. Wright problem next year, decided to limit her exposure early, I guess. Undaunted, the left’s seized on an exciting new meme that gives them the chance to attack an ideological opponent while indulging in the sort of cheap jokes that they’ve otherwise derided for years: They think Bachmann’s husband, whose clinic aims to turn gays straight, is totally, totally gay himself. Can’t wait for the Obama attack ad.