May 27th, 2008
11:38 AM ET
13 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. Melinda Charlotte, NC

    Have no worries, Senator McCain. I will begin transfering my automatic deposits from the Hillary Clinton Campaign Committee to the McCain Campaign Committee if Hillary does not win this nomination. You will begin receiving quite a few online donations as soon as this primary is over from moderate and conservative democrats who want an experienced person in the White House.

    May 27, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Ratgurl

    Interesting. I'm going to go give Obama more money now 😉

    May 27, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Mike

    Just vote Ron Paul to save America.

    May 27, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  4. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    "Billy from Florida:
    I think we should all remember that Obama
    out spent Hillary in several states 3 to 1
    and he still lost."
    Yes, he lost several states, but he will win the nomination. What he did by outspending her was to force her to spend money she didn't have. He was able to do so because he was better at raising money. Don't be mad at him for that.

    And guess what: He's about to do the same with John McCain. Once he kisses and makes up with the Clintons, he then has the Clinton Machine to help him raise even more money, which means more commercials, more and bigger events, etc.

    He'll be able to fill the Superdome, Yankee Stadium, anywhere he wants to go, while John McCain tries to drive his Straight Talk Express on $5.00 worth of gas!

    May 27, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Tom


    You won't find "honest reporting" on CNN. It's a secular fundamentalist, Democratic Party lapdog, as is most media today.

    And look at how many of its fellow travellers on this site who can't spell, or think or read anything beyond their ignorant, narrow viewpoint.

    May 27, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Natalie

    Beca, you're not very smart...neither are the other "democrats" who say they'll vote for McCain if Clinton loses. Clinton & Obama share the same position on almost everything, Clinton & McCain...not so much! You and people like you are either sore losers, petty individuals, and/or racists. Grow up!

    Obama/Clinton '08!!! Let's unify the party!!!

    May 27, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Jacklyn

    If McCain is trying to hide the fundraising efforts by George Bush for him, think about what else he may be hiding or intends to hide once in the White House. Another Karl Rove! McCain is not running on the promises to his followers of being TRANSPARENT. John McCain and George Bush '08' i s what I am seeing.

    May 27, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Michael, an independent Canadian

    It doesn't matter how much money McCain raises.

    The Democrats are so widely divided, thanks to Hillary, that McCain is going to win by default.

    The comment from Beca is a perfect example of the spilt Democrat the way, how is Obama going to steal the nomination??? Such emotion trumps common sense every time.

    May 27, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. Scott Glenn in Wa

    bla bla bla duh, bla bla bla duh, bla bla bla duh!

    And there will be a lot more where that came from!

    May 27, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. F Halbert

    How come we see most of the speech (es) of McCain and Clinton, but Obama only sound bites? Are you Fox in disguise? F Halbert

    May 27, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. kay

    I can't believe some people still think BHO is stealing the nomination, if anyone is going to be stealing it will be Senetor Clinton

    May 27, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Demorat to the bone

    John McCain should be ashamed of himself for not supporting the GI Bill. He along with Bush should be punished for sending our young chidren to die in Iraq. And now he wants to with hold a college education from them. Shame on you. you are nothing else but an old fart. Most of the young people who go into the military go there in high hopes of gaining an education. They lose their lives, limbs etc and you r saying that they can't get an education. Please for God sake, keep this lunatic along with Hillary Clinton out of the White house. And please keep Billary away from the convention. She is planning to come as a sucicide bomber and blow everything up. Bill is losing his mind already. Obama is going to be our next president. And no weapon form against him has and never will prosper. God has his back. And to u "white" people who don't like him because he's black, may God help you. Remember his mom is white, If someone told you that Jesus was black, would you hate Jesus too?, just something to ponder.

    May 27, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. rice, bryan

    maybe they can't remember where they put the money. maybe fat boy limbaugh, and funny boy hannity will be his sugar daddies.

    May 27, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Alice in Florida

    I'll donate the maximum $2,300 to McCain if and when Hillary concedes, and McCain will get my vote in November if Obama is the Democratic nominee. I won't vote for a far-left disenfranchising inexperienced racist liberal who has a hate-filled anti-American wife.

    May 27, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. AJ, IL

    I can summarize the reasons McCain is grappling with fundraising. They are as followed:

    1) McCain is unaspiring
    2) McCain is too old
    3) To Democrats, McCain too much like Bush
    4) To Republicans, McCain is not enough like Bush
    5) To Independents McCain is too pro-military

    Many Obama supporters like myself have reduced our contributions to Obama so that Hillary can exit the race without our money

    If Obama's campaign is smart they will fundraise like HELL for the entire primary season until the convention, then Obama should reach some type of agreement with McCain on using public funding for the general election.

    May 27, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. Enlightened Voter

    He can't raise money because people don't believe in him. People only give their money to worthy causes. All he will do is continue to have their sons and daughters killed in Iraq, continue to oppose the GI bill, continue George Bush's corporate tax cuts and support NAFTA. Giving money to mccain is worse than gambling.

    May 27, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. James, SC

    I will donate to John McCain's candidacy when he agrees to cut taxes for the rich.

    May 27, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. kingsley

    BILLY FROM FLORIDA, YOU NEED TO STOP LISTENING TO TOO MUCH SPINS. The objective of fundraising i to spend the money on campaign and spend it wisely. dont be mad Obama is favored by the people.

    Billary uses her money to pay Mark penn and fly seperate private jets with bill. If Obama uses his for advertizing etc. let it be. Those states he lost were states he were suppose to lose. lets be clear. west racist virrginia, racist Kentucky and PA where he closed in on a big margine and became a victim of elitsts and Rev wright.

    BECA, Obama has earned the nominee with delegates and surviving karl rove politricks from hillary. so don't be stupid and stop listening to the clintons making you think the election has been stolen from them. thats why they are being called to drop out. because of the spins and nonsense that comes out of their mouth.

    May 27, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. Watermann

    Don`t worry, as long as the price (the Presidency of the United States of America) is not gone, there will be enough money available for any canditate to keep the engine running

    May 27, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. rice, bryan

    i think we should be asking, will the big oil support him like they did bush. with mccain talking global warming, and alternative fuels, that can not make him a very popular man. do you think he will flip flop when bush comes to town for a fund raiser? i bet he will love big oil behind closed doors. we already know he's in bed with them, he just need to come out of the closet.

    May 27, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. Susan

    Keep remembering. donating to McBush = ending Rove v. Wade and a continuation of a senseless war that the Respublican President started.

    May 27, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. joseph

    obama's world 2008/12

    May 27, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. martin

    he's a joke .he's going down!hahahaha!

    May 27, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. Thomas Crown

    I'm a black guy, and I love McCain. He is totally awesome. He reminds me of my uncle. My uncle smokes Kool Filter Kings but he will not back down off of anything he believes in. He will fight you over Colt 45 being better than Miller Lite.

    John MCCain is a fighter as well. He gets angry! He's emotional.

    That's why I'm voting for John McCain.

    May 27, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    May 27, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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