Ron Paul kicks off weeklong fundraising push to raise $3M

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul on Thursday encouraged his supporters to flood his campaign coffers with donations with the hopes of raising $3 million over the next week.

Paul, the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman, is looking to make a strong showing before next Thursday's second-quarter filing deadline, one of the first early indicators of the GOP presidential field's fundraising prowess. And he's doing it on the back of the field's front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

"Ten million dollars. That's how much establishment candidate Mitt Romney raised in one day last month from well-heeled party bigwigs for his 2012 White House bid," Paul wrote in an email to supporters. "We need to send a message to the establishment. While you can raise $10 million from your corporate fat cats, you cannot defeat the message of liberty."

Paul believes that the 2012 campaign presents a prime opportunity to contend for the nomination, even though political observers view him as a long-shot candidate.

His campaign has looked to build up a sizable war chest early in the process in an attempt to contend in key early primary states. 

"It's vital I have the financial backing to build a first-class operation in early caucus and primary states and show the pundits and press that I am a serious candidate," he wrote. "I know these so-called 'gate keepers' are part of the Washington problem, but the fact is their either dismissing of candidates or praising them makes a difference to many undecided voters."

Paul is not competing for major donor bucks like other candidates such as Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman. But he has demonstrated his ability to raise large amounts from small-dollar, online donors. His campaign has held two one-day, online "money bombs" over the past two months that have netted him more than $1 million each.

His most recent "money bomb" earlier this month also went after Romney, both for the healthcare law he enacted in Massachusetts and his status as the leading fundraiser in the GOP field. The title of the fundraiser was "The Revolution vs. RomneyCare: Round One."

"I want to send a shockwave through the establishment and insiders, and this will be a big part of it," wrote Paul on Thursday.