How can you tell the Republican presidential field is set? Well, you could take shameless self-promoter Donald Trump's word for it. He told Fox News he's so satisfied with the lineup he's not even going to run as an independent, as Political Wire's Teagan Goddard noticed. But a better measure is the deep-pocketed Republican donors and their trend of settling on a candidate to back after Chris Christie said for sure he's not running. And that candidate appears, for now, to be Romney. He got Home Depot founder Ken Langone, an important GOP donor, to sign up with his campaign. On Thursday, Politico's Maggie Habermann reports that the previously unaligned Paul Singer is backing Romney, too. Singer is a "financier who's one of the biggest 'gets' in the Republican bundler community," Haberman writes. Singer is known as a "fundraising terrorist," she says, "for his focus an arm-twisting."
Romney's really going to need that arm-twisting. Last month, Politico reported that "A lot of places have really dried up" for Romney, especially in New York, a source familiar with his fundraising said. He'd maxed out a lot of donors without bringing new ones in. Romney's expected to announce he raised much less in the third quarter than in the second quarter, when he pulled in $18 million. The Boston Globe reports that Romney's third quarter numbers will be between $11 million and $13 million; the Los Angeles Times says it'll be above $14 million. Either way, it's expected to be less than Rick Perry's haul of $17 million in just 47 days. Perry's fundraising "offers fresh evidence that the governor has the money to stay around the presidential race awhile," the Dallas Morning News' Wayne Slater writes, despite his struggles in debates and his controversial positions on Social Security. Perry is really, really good at raising money. The Houston Chronicle reports, "Over the past decade, he has been a political money machine, raising more than $100 million for three gubernatorial campaigns and another $50 million for GOP candidates as chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2007-2008." Only the Bushes raised more in Texas. Plus he has outside interest groups supporting him -- seven Super PACS, the Huffington Post reports, that can't officially coordinate with the campaign, but can still help him and damage Romney. And there's a conservative group airing ads in Iowa begging voters to "Stop Mitt Romney," CNN's Paul Steinhauser reports.
So Romney will really need his new friends. They go beyond Langone and Singer -- The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins and Steve Eder report report that in the wake of Christie's announcement, Romney has won over Jim Nicholson, the former Republican National Committee chair, Rick Hohlt, a lobbyist who raised $1 million for President George W. Bush, and two former fundraisers for Tim Pawlenty. "Our job now is really simple. It's to raise as much hard money as we possibly can," Jets owner and Romney national finance co-chair Woody Johnson told The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore. "Anybody who hasn't signed on, we're going to be calling."