Chris Cillizza, of The Fix, admits he was a nerd in high school. (David says, “Join the crowd, Chris.”)
At any rate, this proclivity towards grades caused Mr. Cillizza to rate the ’08 Presidential Candidates:
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.): A
Romney’s $23 million haul, which includes a $2.35 million personal donation, is the story of the first quarter. Everyone expected Romney to do well given his ties to a variety of pots of money but no one expected him to rival Clinton’s total contributions for the quarter. That massive haul ensures that Romney will be this quarter’s John Edwards — a little known candidate running low in state and national polls who ensures a spot in the top tier thanks to his fundraising prowess over the first three months of the year. Need evidence? Romney made the rounds of the network morning programs today touting his cash totals.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (N.Y.): B
Giuliani’s $15 million raised keeps him in the pole position for the nomination. And the $10 million he collected in March allows his campaign to argue that the campaign has momentum heading into the second quarter. For Giuliani the next three months — ending June 30 — are even more crucial than the first three months. He entered January with major doubts over whether he would even run. He left March fully in the race and with poll’s showing him as its frontrunner. If Giuliani can’t maximize his polling and the positive buzz around him between now and the end of June he will have big problems.
Sen. Sam Brownback (Kans.): C
We’ve been saying for months that Brownback is running a different kind of campaign than any of the top-tier candidates. Brownback has and will continue to rely on an army of volunteers to provide the manpower for his campaign. He also is focusing heavily on the Iowa caucuses (and the Ames straw poll this August) as his one chance to make the leap. With those factors in place, Brownback’s $1.9 million raised — a total that includes a $575,000 transfer from his Senate committee — is enough to keep him in the conversation. If he can continue to raised $2 million or so a quarter, Brownback will have between $5-8 million to spend on the early days of the nomination fight. That should be enough for his longshot candidacy.
Sen. John McCain (Ariz.): D
McCain’s $12.5 million raised is by far the most shocking — and disappointing — number over the first quarter. Any time the release announcing your fundraising numbers include an acknowledgment from your campaign manager that the totals are not where the campaign would like them to be, it’s a problem. For McCain, his fundraising showing is likely to be used by his rivals as further evidence that his status as the race’s frontrunner is no longer operable. McCain needs to answer back quickly to quiet these whispers. And, given his success in recruiting the fundraising whales that helped bundle millions of dollars for President Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004, McCain should be able to do so. But, make no mistake: His candidacy has taken a hit with these first-quarter fundraising numbers.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.): F
The tale of Huckabee’s presidential run is one of missed opportunities. Over the last six months of 2006, social conservatives seemed ready to get excited about one of their own, but Huckabee did next to nothing to build a campaign organization that could take advantage of this energy. And, by raising $500,000 over the first three months of the year, Huckabee seems to have cemented his status as an also-ran in 2008.
He also grades the Democratic candidates here, if you aren’t too cool to drop by his place at The Fix.