While Democrats can rightfully celebrate the energy and excitement their candidates are generating, and the willingness of hundreds of thousands of people to engage in the process, things look a lot bleaker over in GOoPer land.
McCain was hit hardest.
Lagging in fund-raising and under fire for his support of the Iraq war, Senator John McCain is overhauling his campaign finance operation and delaying the official announcement of his candidacy, his aides said Tuesday.
They said he would adopt the kind of big-donor fund-raising program pioneered by President Bush and give a speech explaining his support for the administration’s troop buildup in Iraq.
The maneuvers come at a time of sharp anxiety in Mr. McCain’s camp, especially over his fund-raising, which is trailing all the major Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.
The concern grew after his visit to Iraq over the weekend, when he asserted that conditions there were improving.
His campaign is a mess, and now he's being forced to adopt the sort of fundraising tactics for which he used to criticize Bush. Ironically, he had the strongest small-donor base of all the Republican candidates, but in their world, popular participation means nothing next to the almighty dollar. So he's throwing away his one advantage in order to kiss up to the big money special interests that "reformer" McCain used to despise.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is basking in the glow that his $23 million bought. However, he's at 2-3 percent in the polls and a long trail of liberal positions he's trying to run from. So yeah, he's got more money than the other guys. But he's also got to SPEND a lot more money to 1) let Republicans around the country know he even exists, and 2) fight back against the YouTubes showing him claiming he'd be a stronger supporter of gay rights and choice than Ted Kennedy. McCain and Giuliani don't have to spend the big bucks to raise their name recognition. Their years of being in the public eye are worth more than $200 million in Romney's pocket.
Finally, Giuliani came in with a respectable $15 million given his late start in the campaign. He's got the most to legitimately celebrate right now. But given his extensive rolodex, the big question is whether he can build on this in Q2. The base doesn't trust him, not surprising given that he once called for public financing of abortions, doesn't think gays are horrible people, and has terrible family values. It'll be interesting to see what his average donation was. I suspect it was very high. And if he continues to have trouble connecting with small dollar donors, those big checks will eventually dry up.
And ultimately, there is no great sign of the despair felt in wingnut circles over this field than the fervent efforts by many to draft Fred Thompson into the race.
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