By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rick Perry's lackluster performance in the last Republican presidential debate will slow his fundraising, backers said, despite their confidence a week ago that he might surpass Mitt Romney in the cash race this quarter.
"Money follows momentum. When you have negative momentum it always impacts your fundraising negatively," said Matt Mackowiak, who is one of the fundraising hosts for Perry at a posh Washington hotel on Tuesday evening.
The Texas governor shot to the top of national polls when he entered the 2012 presidential race last month, but his star diminished somewhat after what some called confusing statements at last week's Republican debate in Florida.
The final weeks in a fundraising period are often the most crucial, fundraisers said.
Democratic President Barack Obama is also on a fundraising blitz -- on the West Coast. And Romney, Perry's chief rival for the Republican nomination to oppose Obama's re-election bid next year, will raise money in Washington this week as well.
The Perry camp had an internal goal of raising about $10 million for the third quarter, which ends on Friday.
Many expect he will still reach that benchmark, but expectations have faded since late last week that Perry could substantially surpass it and overtake the former Massachusetts governor in the money race.
Romney raised $18 million in the last quarter, before Perry launched his presidential campaign, which was more than all of his Republican rivals combined.
"I would imagine some people who might have been ready to come (to Perry) are probably still sitting on the sidelines," because of the debate, said Henry Barbour, who raised money for Republican John McCain's 2008 presidential bid and is now collecting for Perry.
"It is a bump in the road," Barbour said.
Another fundraiser said Perry's camp considers the September 30 deadline the "first primary."
"We're trying to play catch-up," this person said.
(Reporting by Kim Dixon, editing by Doina Chiacu)
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