May 27th, 2008
11:38 AM ET
15 years ago

Roberts: McCain grapples with major fundraising challenge


(CNN) - It's no secret that John McCain has trouble raising money. At least the kind of cash that his earlier Republican rivals did - and the amounts his likely competitor for the White House, Barack Obama can.

In the month of April, McCain took in nearly $18 million - an impressive amount to be sure, and a personal best - but Obama's haul was a whopping $31 million. It's because of a major Democratic breakthrough: a fundraising base of individual small donors.

But ask McCain adviser Carly Fiorina why he can't generate the same campaign cash of his rivals, and you get the sort of sleight-of-hand answer she gave us today on American Morning. "The RNC raised over $40 million in April, which is ten times the rate of the Democratic National Committee and that's important because Senator McCain has access to those total funds", said Fiorina. "That's true," I responded, "the RNC has a lot of cash." But why is it that McCain can't attract the same response among individual donors that his predecessors did?

Fiorina: "Well, I hate to keep correcting you, but in truth, the RNC is raising money very specifically for the presidential campaign, and by the rules, the money that the RNC raises can be used for the presidential campaign."

It's the type of non-answer we may expect to hear more as McCain will clearly have to rely on the awesome fundraising power of the Republican National Committee to help him keep pace with the Democratic nominee.

He's rolling out the fundraiser-in-chief this week to help out, but McCain seems to be taking Rep. Tom Davis's remarks that President Bush is "radioactive" to heart and keeping him below the radar. Politico's Mike Allen reported that big fundraisers planned for the Phoenix Convention Center and the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City have been shelved in favor of smaller functions at private residences. I asked Fiorina about the change. "There will be occasions where they appear together," she said, "but there will be, frankly, more occasions where they appear apart because John McCain is running for the future presidency and most people vote on the future, actually."

If the present is any indication, McCain needs to keep the past under wraps if he hopes to have a future. President Bush's disapproval rating sits at 71 percent in the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

With McCain counting on independents and independent-minded Democrats to vault him into the Oval Office, many Republicans believe that the best place for President Bush is well below the treeline, working party faithful, 65 percent of whom still have faith in him.

Can McCain fix his money problem? Will the Democratic campaigns come together at the end of the primary season to combine their fundraising muscle? Will McCain have the playing field leveled by an agreement from the Democratic candidate to take public financing? The last question is the only one that currently has a likely answer: No. Which means McCain has a lot of work ahead.

Filed under: John McCain • John Roberts
soundoff (249 Responses)
  1. This needs to STOP

    He cannot raise any money on his own because he is the replica of Bush and Americans are tired of a government who has lost its mind.

    Democrats 08

    May 27, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  2. Conservative Buyer- CA

    Well it's gonna be hard to raise money especially when you ask for money from those you don't want to have money.

    Approve Obama's GI Bill and you might get the vets to start donating.

    May 27, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. Ennis, LA

    Yeah...and the only time his speeches come alive is when the
    anti-war hecklers are interrupting him!

    May 27, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. Sharon Minnesota

    Support John McCain a moderate and sensible Republican in 2008. The democrats have lost their way, are bitter and divisive and will not serve America well.

    It's a matter of history and timing before we see what the Iraqi war has meant to the US. Our modern society has a bad habit of judging everything by emotion and instant gratification. This is not the way our predecessors thought or made decisions. If it were, we would probably be under a totalitarian government ruled by neo-nazi's or communism. Previous wars defending democracy have brought us to this point in history. Let's try to be adults and use reasoning instead of emotion to gratify our every feeling.

    Historians will judge George W. Bush and his role in maintaining democracy around the world in their own time.

    John McCain is a man of the hour who has the right plan for Iraq and the mideast. Moderation and sensibility are his most important attributes, unlike the fanatical and emotional opponents he is facing in the democratic party. Think before you speak or posts comments that are purely emotionally driven.

    Be sane and vote McCain.

    May 27, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. A Democrat

    You can combine Billarry conributions and Bushcain's and you still won't be anywhere near Obama's 21st century fundraising pace thru to November. In fact he'll still have a surplus after Nov.

    May 27, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Sam, Florida

    Chitter-chatter on, ObamaMessiah lovers. ObamaMessiah cannot be a successful president, as over 1/2 this country already despises him and will not change their minds. in fact, after he is elected, many of you messiah lovers will also rue your choice.

    May 27, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. William about a lot of Clinton supporters who scare me on here!!

    Why would Clinton supporters NOT vote for Obama because the Media or another Obama supporter said something they didn't like? Are you that EMOTIONAL or WEAK-MINDED to not comprehend that the Media or Obama supporters do not speak on behalf of the Obama campaign? That would be like me NOT voting for Clinton because of what YOU said. I am strong in my desire to see my country get the best...I don't worry about being right. Get this...while I am an Obama supporter, IF Clinton won the nomination...she would have my support because she is closest to what I believe we need for the future of this great country. What do you believe in? Being right...or would you make sure our children, troops, and economy move in the right direction? Don't be weak...continue to support the DNC movement no matter who the nominee is.

    To add...when I hear comments from Clinton supporters who refuse to back Obama I have to ask, "Will you not support him because of the media, or is it really because you don't like him because he is a man or because he is black?" Otherwise, what other real, sincere and genuine reason would you vote AGAINST your own issues (Economy, Pro-Choice, Ending the war, etc)?

    May 27, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  8. RB

    No doubt he will complain about Obama "trying to buy the presidency". Unfortunately for him, it is US buying back the presidency by funding our candidate!

    May 27, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  9. Not my money!

    When hell freezes over.

    May 27, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Adam

    To everyone saying that if Obama wins the nomination, they're gonna start donating money to John McCain and vote for him, well, feel free. I'm male, so it wouldn't personally affect me if McCain won and put in Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

    Is your little feud with Barack Obama for upsetting the inevitable candidate's run so deep that you'd do that to yourself and your daughters?

    Where was your mock outrage about Michigan and Florida when the decision to unseat their delegates were first made and Hillary said this: "It's clear this election [Michigan is] having is not going to count for anything. I personally did not think it made any difference whether or not my name was on the ballot."

    The whole attitude smacks of an immature schoolyard mentality. "Oh yeah? Well I'm taking my ball and going home!"

    But hey, I don't face the prospect of an illegal back-alley abortion, so maybe it's not up to me.

    May 27, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. Sharon Minnesota

    Are we really ready to trade one religious administration for another? One that is a thousand times worse?

    George W. Bush's administration was driven by right wing "Christians" who tried to rule by their interpretations of Christian belief. Now we have Barack Obama's left winged, black liberation theology fanaticism to replace it??? I hope not.

    It's time to bring back a moderate government with John McCain in 08.

    May 27, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. A Democrat

    Give me one accomplishment that qualified Bush, Nixon ,etc... to be President and I will be happy to disqualify Obama

    May 27, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  13. Billy from Florida

    You Go ... If not Hillary your the next best thing...


    May 27, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  14. H-ROD

    good, no one should give a dime, to destroy this country we can not have four years of John Mccain... OH MY GOD !!!!! just think of what would happen to this country > It's just like having four more years of GEORGE BUSH. OH HELL TO THE NO !!!!!!! come people wake up (YES OBAMA CAN)!!!!!!

    May 27, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Pat Riot

    Bias? Yes.

    May 27, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. Who would pay him?

    Go away McBush. Every sensible person is sick of Bush's failed policies. You're just an insensitive old man who will continue those failed policies. You don't know anything about how the people are suffering. C'mon Dems, win this election for the good of everyone.

    Democrats '08

    May 27, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Richard, FL

    "(Barack Obama) Understands how to spend public monies after blowing 484 million dollars on his nomination campaign."

    Who won?

    May 27, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. H-ROD


    May 27, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. J.W. of Mississippi

    Someone tell John "Body Bags" McCain that being a POW doesn't make one a War Hero. It means that you were shot down. being awarded the Purple Heart doesn't make you a hero, it means that you were wounded due to enemy actions. Many people are awarded the Purple Heart for very minor injuries. Col. Oliver North got a Purple Heart for injuries he received when a grenade he had thrown hit a tree and bounced back a sprayed him with a tiny fragment. Your real Heroes are the men and women that didn't come back.

    May 27, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Ben

    More misinformation follows.

    "No more Rigged Elections in America May 27th, 2008 2:11 pm ET

    McCain's fundraising won't be a problem CNN. Remember, Obama outspent Hillary 2-1, 3-1, 4-1 in swing states and still lost.

    Money can't buy votes Obama, especially when we don't believe you have the experience or backbone to lead this country.


    Plus, he won't debate and won't go on FOX for an interview. What a coward.

    Hillary 08, take it to the convention"

    This is one of the problems of this election. People running their mouths without checking out the facts. Senator Obama did appear on Chris Wallace's show on FOX. He won't debate? There have been 19 or so debates and he won't debate? If you can't do any better than this, please don't vote because you are incapable odf rational thought.

    May 27, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. H-ROD


    May 27, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. bridgette

    To all of you Democrats if Edwards and Hillary were in the race and she was loosing would you still vote for McCain or would you vote for Edwards. Stop being fooled by Hilary. He actually has more legislative experience than her. Have you even tried to listen to him to see what his policies and beliefs are. Because he and Hilary are not that far away from each other on policy. So for you to go and vote for someone that is completely against everything you believe is just foolish too me. So you need to ask yourself why won't I really vote for this guy. He has more experience legislatively than Hilary and he has proven to be a better candidate than her. And he appears to be honest unlike her. So ask yourself why are you really voting against eveything you believe in. Because you can't hide from yourself everywhere you go there you are. So you can keep telling the public it's because of his experience but be honest with your self.

    May 27, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. K

    Hey John Roberts,
    You're about as biased as they come...I wouldn't expect any less than this from you! Don't you have an "illegal immigrant being treated unfairly by the evil European-American land-grabbers" story to investigate somewhere?

    May 27, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. KAB

    I just wonder why HRC supporters think that if she doen't win it was a stolen election? I am an Obama supporter and voted just like you did. Is my vote no good? Does yours count more? Many like you and me voted, how is it being solen? Change the DNC rules before you talk about stealing. It was won fair and square according to the rules of the DNC. So because your candidate didn't win you would rather have 4 more years of the same crap we have been living with and be more in debt and more starved as a country than ever before? If you all write her name in she still won't win. You will just succeed in Mccain winning and it will be worse.
    If you like it then i love it.
    I just want to know why you feel your votes should count more than the rest of ours.

    May 27, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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