Cam­paign Fi­nan­cial Re­ports Show McCain Lag­ging Ri­vals

Sen­a­tor Spent $8 Mil­lion and Has $1.8 Mil­lion in Debt

The Washington Post Sunday - - National News - By Michael D. Shear and Matthew Mosk

Sen. John McCain’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign burned through more than $8 mil­lion dur­ing the first three months of 2007, leav­ing the one­time Repub­li­can front-run­ner with only $5.2 mil­lion in the bank, less than half the cash re­main­ing for each of his chief ri­vals for the GOP nom­i­na­tion.

The Ari­zona sen­a­tor’s cam­paign also listed $1.8 mil­lion in debts, in­clud­ing $207,000 on its Amer­i­can Ex­press ac­count, in a re­port filed yes­ter­day to the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion.

By con­trast, for­mer New York mayor Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani re­ported cash on hand of $10.8 mil­lion and debts of about $89,000. For­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor Mitt Rom­ney had al­most $12 mil­lion in cash and re­ported no debt.

The lead­ing Demo­cratic can­di­dates are ex­pected to an­nounce their re­main­ing cash to­day, when all can­di­dates must file their first-quar­ter fi­nan­cial re­ports by mid­night.

McCain’s fi­nan­cial fil­ing is the latest sign of the strug­gles to be­set a 2008 can­di­dacy once con­sid­ered as the most for­mi­da­ble in ei­ther po­lit­i­cal party.

Late last year, McCain was con­sid­ered the fa­vorite to win the GOP nom­i­na­tion and a strong chal­lenger to any Demo­crat. But since then, the Ari­zona sen­a­tor has strug­gled to re­cap­ture the in­sur­gent spirit of his 2000 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

His un­stint­ing sup­port for the Iraq war has cost him sup­port among moder­ates, and his fundrais­ing has failed to keep pace with his ri­vals, de­spite be­ing led by some of the most ex­pe­ri­enced names in the busi­ness.

“We didn’t do as well as we should,” McCain told re­porters last night af­ter a speech in Des Moines. “It’s prob­a­bly my fault. We’re go­ing to do bet­ter the next quar­ter.”

James Bopp Jr., a Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee­man from In­di­ana who has op­posed McCain’s cam­paign fi­nance re­form ef­forts, said he was shocked by the num­bers re­ported yes­ter­day.

“Par­tic­u­larly in com­par­i­son to the other can­di­dates, it is truly dev­as­tat­ing,” said Bopp, who sup­ports Rom­ney. “Not only is his over­all fundrais­ing down, but the ef­fi­ciency of his fundrais­ing is very low. Ef­fi­ciency is very im­por­tant.”

McCain raised $12.5 mil­lion in the first quar­ter, a fig­ure that his cam­paign man­ager called dis­ap­point­ing. (The cam­paign up­dated that to­tal yes­ter­day to $13 mil­lion.) Within days, McCain an- nounced he was over­haul­ing his fundrais­ing op­er­a­tion. He said last week that he is also trim­ming his staff and can­cel­ing some con­tracts with con­sul­tants.

McCain’s spokesman said yes­ter­day that the cam­paign’s fi­nan­cial prob­lems have been fixed.

“Our re­struc­tured fundrais­ing op­er­a­tion . . . will pro­vide more ac­count­abil­ity and met­rics to en­sure fundrais­ing suc­cess mov­ing for­ward,” Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Di­rec­tor Brian Jones said. “To raise pres­i­den­tial dol­lars, you need an ag­gres­sive, smart, ac­count­able donor pro­gram. We now have that.”

Jones de­clared the cam­paign “pleased” with the 51,000 in­di­vid­ual donors who con­trib­uted. Gi­u­liani had 28,356 donors, while Rom­ney had 36,538. And cam­paign aides said the fundrais­ing is mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion, rais­ing about $2 mil­lion in Jan­uary, $2.9 mil­lion in Fe­bru­ary and $8.1 mil­lion in March.

McCain’s money was spent build­ing one of the pres­i­den­tial field’s most so­phis­ti­cated and com­plex or­ga­ni­za­tions, which in­cluded about 120 staffers in the Crys­tal City head­quar­ters and in early-pri­mary states, aides said. McCain has also hired sev­eral high-priced cam­paign con­sul­tants who once worked for Pres­i­dent Bush.

In ad­di­tion to the Amer­i­can Ex­press card, other large debts in­clude more than $66,000 for mo­tor coach rentals, pre­sum­ably for use of the “Straight Talk Ex­press” McCain made fa­mous in the 2000 cam­paign, $152,267 to a Min­nesota com­pany that han­dles fundrais­ing calls, and $16,317 in cater­ing costs for an event at the swank Bev­erly Hil­ton ho­tel.

Kent Cooper, one of the founders of the Po­lit­i­calMoneyLine Web site, said McCain’s level of spend­ing seems more ap­pro­pri­ate to a less-well­known can­di­date, who needs to earn name recog­ni­tion and to in­vest in prospect­ing for donors, than to a front-run­ner.

“Those ac­tiv­i­ties are ex­tremely ex­pen­sive,” Cooper said. “Some­body who has al­ready es­tab­lished a name iden­tity, some­one who has al­ready es­tab­lished a suc­cess­ful fundrais­ing list, their costs would nor­mally be less.”

Gi­u­liani re­ported Fri­day hav­ing spent $5.7 mil­lion on his cam­paign. Rom­ney’s cam­paign said he spent about $11.6 mil­lion dur­ing the pe­riod. Staff writer Peter Baker in Des Moines and re­search data­base ed­i­tor Derek Wil­lis con­trib­uted to this re­port.

BY KEN­DRA HELMER — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said fundrais­ing for his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign will im­prove in the next quar­ter.

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