McCain’s fail­ure to cash in

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

When he ef­fec­tively wrapped up the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion on Tsunami Feb. 5, John McCain com­pleted one of the great­est come­backs in Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal his­tory. Un­for­tu­nately, while spend­ing much of the sub­se­quent 12 weeks tak­ing well-de­served vic­tory laps, Mr. McCain has also ap­par­ently taken a wor­ri­some vacation from fund-rais­ing.

The McCain cam­paign re­cently filed yet an­other dis­ap­point­ing fund-rais­ing re­port (this one was for March) with the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion. The pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee raised only $15.2 mil­lion in March. In Fe­bru­ary, which in­cluded 24 days af­ter he clinched the nom­i­na­tion, Mr. McCain raised only $11 mil­lion. That was ac­tu­ally less than the $11.7 mil­lion he raised in Jan­uary, be­fore he ef­fec­tively clinched the nom­i­na­tion. Granted, the $38 mil­lion he raised dur­ing the first quar­ter ex­ceeds the $37 mil­lion he raised through­out 2007. How­ever, his first-quar­ter rake is dwarfed by the Jan­uary-March con­tri­bu­tions of $133 mil­lion raised by Barack Obama and $69 mil­lion col­lected by Hil­lary Clin­ton.

In­ter­est­ingly, Mr. McCain’s to­tal con­tri­bu­tions from in­di­vid­u­als through March ($74.6 mil­lion) are ac­tu­ally less than the $75.3 mil­lion that then-Texas Gov. Ge­orge W. Bush had raised through March 2000 on his way to the nom­i­na­tion. Not only has the gen­eral price level in­creased by 25 per­cent since March 2000, but the max­i­mum pri­mary-cam­paign con­tri­bu­tion that an in­di­vid­ual could give to Mr. Bush dur­ing the 1999-2000 cy­cle was $1,000, which is $1,300 be­low to­day’s in­di­vid­ual limit of $2,300 for the pri­mary sea­son. More­over, the 1999-2000 fundrais­ing era pre-dated Howard Dean’s 2003 pi­o­neer­ing ex­ploita­tion of the In­ter­net as a fund-rais­ing tool.

It is also in­ter­est­ing to note that John Kerry’s con­tri­bu­tions from in­di­vid­u­als to­taled $74.6 mil­lion at the end of March 2004. That’s the same amount that Mr. McCain has raised in the cur­rent cy­cle through March. But Mr. Kerry, the 2004 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial stan­dard-bearer, did not clinch his party’s nom­i­na­tion un­til he won nine of the 10 pri­maries held on Su­per Tues­day (March 2). Then the De- mo­cratic money be­gan to flow his way in tor­rents. Af­ter rais­ing only $31 mil­lion from in­di­vid­u­als dur­ing the pre­vi­ous 14 months, Mr. Kerry col­lected more than $43 mil­lion in March 2004 alone as the pre­sump­tive nom­i­nee. Over the next four months, his in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions to­taled $31 mil­lion (April), $30 mil­lion (May), $35 mil­lion (June) and $40 mil­lion (July). Be­tween the time he clinched the nom­i­na­tion in early March and the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion in late July, Mr. Kerry raised $180 mil­lion. Since Mr. McCain clinched the GOP nom­i­na­tion in early Fe­bru­ary, he raised about $25 mil­lion through the end of March.

On March 31, 2004, four weeks af­ter Mr. Kerry locked up the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, his cam­paign cof­fers had $32 mil­lion. On March 31, 2008, eight weeks af­ter Mr. McCain did the same with the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, his cam­paign cof­fers held less than $12 mil­lion. As Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clin­ton have been emp­ty­ing much larger war chests bat­tling each other, Mr. McCain has been squan­der­ing a golden op­por­tu­nity.

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