Perry raises $17M in seven weeks

Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised $17 million in the first seven weeks of his campaign for president, a large haul that could help right the course of his struggling campaign.

He has $15 million cash on hand and did not say if his campaign had any debt.

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His impressive fundraising figure will mean Perry can build the long-term infrastructure of a big-dollar campaign and compete extensively with Mitt Romney in field organization and advertising. He is the only candidate besides Romney to have the resources to do so.

“The generous contributions from Americans across the nation prove the overwhelming support for Gov. Perry’s principled, conservative leadership and vision to get America working again,” said Perry campaign manager Rob Johnson. “The governor will continue traveling the country talking directly to Americans about restoring our economic strength, job creation and putting our country on a path to prosperity and opportunity for future generations. Gov. Perry deeply appreciates the energetic support and hard work of the thousands of Republican volunteers and activists who’ve helped us build a strong and growing organization in just seven weeks.”

The Texas governor was expected to have a strong fundraising quarter despite his late entry into the race. (He launched his campaign Aug. 13, about halfway through the third quarter.) By comparison, Romney raised $18 million in the entire second quarter.

Romney Spokesperson Andrea Saul declined to disclose Romney's third-quarter haul, but said he didn't match his last quarter of fundraising. “It’s less than what Mitt Romney raised in the first quarter, and we feel good in the strength of our finance team and the fact that we are adding new people every day," she said.

Romney is expected to have raised north of $10 million, and some reports have bracketed it at between $11 million and $13 million overall.

Donors to Perry came in equal measure from within Texas and outside the state, showing he has built at least some fundraising appeal outside of his initial base of support.

Perry's campaign has had a rough few weeks since a rocky debate performance and straw poll loss in Florida, and in recent days he has been passed in the polls by Herman Cain. But it is unlikely Cain will have anywhere near the financial resources Perry has, meaning if Perry can prove himself a better debater than he has shown so far, he is likely to remain Romney's biggest foe.

This story was updated at 11:35 a.m. to include Saul's comment.