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Jeb Bush Holds Biggest Pot Of Gold Among GOP Presidential Contenders


If you like spreadsheets and politics, well, last night may as well have been Christmas. It was the deadline for presidential campaigns to file their first batch of fundraising numbers with the Federal Election Commission. We'll start our look at the numbers on the Republican side. Here's NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Right now, Jeb Bush has the biggest pot of gold in the GOP field - some $11 million he's raised on his own, plus a super PAC backing him that's collected more than $100 million. Bush's money is coming from big fundraising events and big donors. Having lots of cash can be a big advantage, but as Bush himself said at a candidate forum a few months back, he hasn't exactly scared away the competition. Bush joked that there are, like, 95 candidates in the field.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...By any stretch of the imagination...

JEB BUSH: I don't see any coronation coming my way, trust me. (Laughter).


GONYEA: Well behind Bush but still with plenty of money are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Each of their campaigns has raised millions, and each has a super Pac that has brought in a far greater amount. The overall tally for Cruz tops $52 million, for Rubio, more than $40 million. Of course, past elections provide plenty of evidence that cash doesn't guarantee success. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has raised more than $10 million with no super PAC help at this point. Carson and Cruz have spent a lot of money to raise a lot of money - phone calls, emails and direct mail. Nancy Bocskor is a veteran fundraiser who now teaches at George Washington University.

NANCY BOCSKOR: In direct mail, there's always a larger start-up cost 'cause you're doing list acquisition, printing of envelopes and just setting the machinery in place looking for those few nuggets.

GONYEA: Those nuggets, she says, are hard to find, but.

BOCSKOR: Once I know somebody has given $25, chances are, they're going to give $25 again and again and again.

GONYEA: Much of the huge GOP field is still struggling to raise cash, then there's Donald Trump. Put him in his own category. He's raised practically nothing, but, well, there's this.


DONALD TRUMP: I don't need anybody's money. I'm using my own money. I'm not using the lobbyists, I'm not using donors, I don't care. I'm really rich. I'll show you that in a second.

GONYEA: And, no matter how much candidates raise individually, these latest numbers make clear - super PAC money will play a huge role and perhaps have an outsized impact. Don Gonyea, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.