Early Fundraising Totals Could Shape 2016 GOP Field

Republican candidates are looking to use the release of their quarterly fundraising numbers to show they’ve got what it takes to outlast the crowded field.
 
The smart-money favorites are hoping to flex their muscles and fire a warning shot down the totem pole, while long-shot candidates seek to prove their mettle.
 
“This is the first opportunity to publicly separate the A-team 2016 contenders from the wannabes,” Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, told The Hill.
Strategists say all eyes are on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has sought out to blow other candidates out of the water with his fundraising totals. 
But there’s a reason Bush still faces pressure to post an impressive total: His campaign’s unspoken pitch that he has the fundraising chops to match Clinton in a general election.
 
"Hillary went out there and threw up $45 million, he has to put up a number that looks good relative to the circumstances," O'Connell said. 
 
“You want to set the pace but also, your target is to scare the Clinton camp.”
The numbers come in at a key point in the 2016 race, because of unprecedented rules for the first debates of the primary season.
 
Debates hosted by Fox News and CNN in August and September are restricted to just the top 10 contenders, as measured by national polling. Candidates outside the top 10 will debate separately.
 
“The key thing for all of them is to get on the debate stage, you almost don’t care as much as long as you get on the debate stage,” O’Connell said. “But if you are getting locked out of the debate stage, you better be able to throw up something that exceeds expectations. ”
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Analysis & Political Strategy