Pure Horserace: Romney Riding High

generic election 2008 white house president romney rudy giuliani john mccain mcain
Even though he didn't beat Hillary Clinton's first-quarter fundraising numbers, Republican Mitt Romney may end up benefiting the most from the first round of the so-called "money primary." The former Massachusetts governor pulled in $23 million between January 1 and March 31, easily topping Rudy Giuliani's $15 million despite being a relatively unfamiliar face, especially in comparison to the former New York mayor.

But both Republicans look like big winners compared with Arizona Sen. John McCain — who raised "only" $12.5 million (yes, that amount merits an "only" in a race like this). Apparently McCain wasn't merely playing the expectations game last week when he said his numbers could disappoint.

The McCain campaign didn't bother spinning the results much. "Although we are pleased with the organization we've built and polls show us strongly positioned in key primary states, we had hoped to do better in first-quarter fundraising," campaign manager Terry Nelson said in a statement. "We are already in the process of taking the necessary steps to ensure fundraising success moving forward."

McCain has been eyeing this campaign for nearly eight years and was expected to weigh in with a figure closer to the $20 million mark — so prepare for a lot of "What's Wrong With The McCain Campaign?" stories in the next week or two. Also, expect Romney to receive more media coverage and maybe a few endorsements.

Clinton posted the biggest number, $26 million (supplemented by $10 million from her Senate campaign account), which was more or less in line with expectations. The same goes for John Edwards, who pulled in $14 million. This leaves a huge opening for Barack Obama. If the Illinois senator posts Romney-like numbers, it would partially validate months of hype and cement his status as the top challenger to the establishment-backed Clinton.

However, it also appears the mystique that surrounds Obama's candidacy extends to the money race — he was the only top-tier candidate to not announce his fundraising totals as of Monday afternoon.

One qualifier: A lot of questions about these numbers remained unanswered. We don't know what all the candidates have in the bank or how much they've spent. We don't know where the money came from or where it's gone. For all we know, Romney spent this quarter tapping Mormon donors dry and will fall flat in the second quarter. Edwards had a similar experience in 2004 when he was forced to expand beyond his fundraising base of trial lawyers.

Not To Be Forgotten: In case you didn't notice (and there's a very good chance you didn't), the Republican presidential field grew by two in the past three days, as former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo both said they're officially in the race.

Their announcements say a lot about both men's prospects. Tancredo announced on an Iowa radio call-in show, while Thompson said he was running during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning show. Neither made a big splash like Clinton's online video, Obama's Springfield, Ill., rally, or McCain's Letterman appearance.

Both men face an uphill climb. Thompson was often on vice-presidential short lists when he was Wisconsin governor, but faded into obscurity after becoming President Bush's Health and Human Services secretary, a position he gave up after Mr. Bush's re-election. Tancredo, who takes a hardline stance on illegal immigration, is widely seen as a one-issue candidate.

Does What Happens In New York Stay There? Rudy and Judith Giuliani are certainly used to the New York media treatment by now. In fact, it's one of the main points sometimes used by supporters of the former mayor as evidence that he's prepared to run the media gauntlet of a presidential campaign. Front-page headlines about everything from their public slip-ups to their private lives have toughened them up.

Perhaps, but what will the rest of the country think if and when they're exposed to some of the more sensationalistic stories the city's tabloids thrive on? Take today's papers – please.

The front page of the New York Daily News weighs in with a front-page story in which Judith Giuliani's first husband hails her as a potential "terrific First Lady." Not so bad, unless you realize that the fact she had been married to this particular man was only a recent public discovery. Even this seemingly positive story serves as a little reminder that, despite years under the spotlight, the New York media are still learning about her private life.

More uncomfortable is the New York Post's front page, with the following headline in large type: "Judi's Dog Days." The story, a follow-up from a lengthy Sunday expose about the Giulianis' relationship claims that while working for a surgical supply company, Judith Giuliani demonstrated products on dogs that were later destroyed.

It's hard not to get the feeling that the city's tabloids are going to find plenty to write about when it comes to the former mayor and his wife. What voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire might think of such stories — if they are exposed to them — is probably going to differ from the reaction New Yorkers have. They're used to seeing their officials treated this way. Then again, if they can make it there …

Welcome Home: There's a new member in the stable of CBS News political reporters and analysts with the addition of Jeff Greenfield as CBS' new senior political correspondent. Jeff worked for CBS from 1979-83, though he's probably most familiar to viewers for his work on CNN, where he's covered politics for the past nine years.