“If you’re a Republican thinking about running against Obama, you just can’t wake up in January 2011 and say, ‘I think I want to run for president.’ If you wait until then, it’s too late,” said Michael Toner, a former FEC chairman who was general counsel for George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000 and Fred Thompson’s in 2008. “You’re going to have to be able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars, so you have to spend 2009 and 2010 building out your fundraising base, your infrastructure and your network.”

The political groups run by Romney, Gingrich, Huckabee and Palin, combined with those run by Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia and Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Jim DeMint of South Carolina (also thought of as at least possible 2012 GOP prospects) brought in a combined $12.9 million in the first half of the year, a POLITICO analysis of IRS and FEC reports found…

Among the federal leadership PACs POLITICO analyzed, the ones chaired by former Govs. Huckabee of Arkansas, Palin of Alaska and Romney of Massachusetts were the least generous in terms of direct donations, which made up 5 percent or less of the cash they spent in the first six months of the year.