Rep. Michele Bachmann raised $2.2 million in the first three months of the year, her Chief of Staff Andy Parrish confirmed Friday.

The first quarter fundraising numbers — $1.7 million through her congressional campaign and $500,000 through her political action committee— will continue to fuel speculation about her presidential ambitions as she weighs whether to run in 2012.

Bachmann’s $2.2 million is more than 2012 GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney raised in the first quarter. The former Massachusetts governor raised $1.9 million through his Free and Strong political action committee, Fox News reported.

There’s an important difference in the two figures, however: The money Bachmann raises through her congressional committee can be transferred to a presidential race, but Romney’s money cannot. So Romney and other potential presidential candidates with just political committees had less incentive to put up big numbers this quarter.

Bachmann broke House records by raising more than $13 million in her 2010 reelection campaign, and fundraising would be one of her chief assets in a presidential bid.

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who formed a presidential exploratory committee two weeks ago, has already indicated he didn’t raise much money in the first quarter as he wound down his PAC. A spokesman said he won’t be releasing his first quarter numbers on Friday.

With an exploratory committee, Pawlenty is able to start raising money for a presidential campaign. He told donors to wait until today, the start of the second quarter, to make donations.

Official fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission are due later this month.

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