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. vince

    Now that McCain has Bushie helping with fund raising money should be no problem. Also after the DNC foisting of Obama you have a large demographic of people waiting to send McCain some money.


    May 27, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. Ovitshio Branco from Puerto Rico

    Every Stupid Americans will vote for Mcsame Bush

    May 27, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. Sam, SD

    McFilp Flopper is having trouble with fund raising is because his running a Bush 3rd term.

    May 27, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. Peter E

    Yes, McCain is being outraised and outspent. He was outraised and outspent even in the initial republican primaries... and yet he still won.
    The press likes to point out how amazing the Obama story is, how quickly he made up double digit poll deficit to become the democratic frontrunner. Oddly enough they don't report on the even more amazing story of McCain, who came back from polling in the single digits in the fall, practically out of the race, to become his party's nominee... And he did it all at one tenth the money of either democrat's campaign!

    May 27, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Obama is the One

    Any HRC supporter that supports McCain if Obama gets the nomination is an idiot. It CLEARLY shows the lack of principle upon which they base their voting because McCain's views are much more different than Hillary's than Obama's. These silly people voting on pure emotion are willing to help John McCain get into the office and put 2 new very conservative judges in the Court who will take away women's rights in ways not even currently understood just because Obama won in a fair race. Most of these HRC supporters are women who are too hurt that their shining beacon female candidate will lose this time around. That's sad and pathetic. There will be another woman who will have an opportunity. You don't have to go and further ruin outr country via some sort fo vengeful vote for John McCain just because HRC is not the presidential candidate for the Democratic PArty. What kind of compelte imbeciles are you people???? Do you want a 100+ year occupation? Do you want to keep spending billions upon billions every day in Iraq? Do you want 1000s more of our troops to die for a war that should have never been waged? Do you REALLY want to maintain the status quo in this country, its foreign policy and its economic policies???

    You ALL need to QUICKLY get over the fact that Hillary won't win this time around and keep the Democratic party strong so that Hillary or another female democrat will have a strong chance of winning in 2012 and 2016. Stop being so illogical and utterly emotional to your own detriment. I want a female president too! I wanted the French female candidate to win. I support women in power. But, let's not be so narrow-minded as to defeat every goal and principle many of us share for this country and for our families!!!!!!! Are you a closet Republican?

    May 27, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Independent for Obama

    I really enjoy the fact that what McCain's representative said is called a "non-answer" by CNN, even though outright bald-faced lies by democrats are only called "misspeaks."

    May 27, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. BER

    The reps are out-fund-raising the dems significantly. Why is this a problem for McCain? Unless only McCain raised money can be used in the campaign it doesn't really matter who puts it in the pot. In fact doesn't that mean that McCain can spend more time pressing the flesh with more voters?

    OT: Would somebody explain to me the constant claim by some HRC supporters that her opponent is somehow "stealing" the nomination. I am under the impression that BHO has followed the rules set out by the DNC and agreed to by both candidates. I am also under the impression that he has won more delegates, more states, and if one includes all states that have expressed an official opinion, the popular vote. Am I missing something? Did the nomination belong to HRC and the DNC just forgot to tell the voters?

    May 27, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. mCBUSH

    too many racist people against obama

    May 27, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. less media more issues

    What if they gave a fundraiser and nobody came!

    May 27, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. Peter E

    I am continually amused that while Obama purports to be the agent of change, cleaning up Washington politics and getting Americans their democracy back, the bottomline is that his entire campaign is really just about outraising and outspending his opponents. Way to bring about 'change!' By continuing to rely on, and even amplifying the political money machine he continually criticizes.

    May 27, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. MI 4 Obama!

    We will soon have a awesome new President!

    BARACK OBAMA 08 & 12!

    Yes we can! Yes we will!

    May 27, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Rick in Florida

    Maybe McCain can appeal for funding from EX-HILLARY supporters.

    They seem to have no clue as to the merits of contributing, so why not go for them?? Just bring a different flavor of Kool-Aid and you'll get their funds and their undying (if misplaced) support!!

    May 27, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Vietnam Veteran

    By the end of the GE you'll be ready for a long rest. G'night Dear John. Sweet dreams.

    May 27, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. Jon Smith

    First off your an idiot Beca. How can he steal the nomination when he is ahead? That doesn't make any sense. Also, he didn't steal anything. If you were to blame anyone it would be the voters that voted for him and going against them is then going against the democratic will of the people. If Obama were in the same position would you be saying Hillary stole the nomination? No. Hillary is a good candidate she just ran against a better one. They also both agree on mostly the same issues. So for you to say you won't vote for someone who holds mostly identical views as Hillary and that you'll go with someone who shares opposite views is just stupid. It's alright to have a grudge that your candidate lost, but realize what will happen if you vote for McCain. It's pretty much voting for everything that isn't what Hillary stands for.

    Also, don't claim she is ahead in the popular vote because that is not true. He's ahead, maybe by a small number but still ahead, and also the numbers for the popular vote in caucus states isn't ever released, so it's a miss represented number anyways. And mind you he did win most if not all caucuses.

    May 27, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. Paul FL

    Billy from Florida,

    Your beloved Clinton wasnt able to raise the amount of money Obama did!! Why?? Because she doesnt have the support that obama has..

    Are you saying she would not have spent the money if she had it??

    Besides, none of this no longer matters! Obama is the nominee regardless.. Hilary has run the worst campaign in decades!

    May 27, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. Brian

    Uh, that's because no one wants to see George W. Bush PART 3.

    May 27, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    I wonder why. Do you think that will change when the GE gets under way?

    Matt Nebraska,

    You said it ! I couldn't agree more.

    May 27, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Count Me Out!

    I've given hundreds and hundreds of dollars to the Clinton campaign, because I believe unequivocally that Hillary Clinton is the best candidate. However, whenever the DNC has come knocking on my door, they have gotten ZIP! They've botched this entire campaign with their irresponsible MI/FL fiasco. And they will continue to get ZIP from me! If not Hillary, then nobody. THIS ONE is for principle!

    May 27, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. YES

    Yes "Billy from Florida" Obama did but guess what?? It works. The prime objective was achived. By Obama doing so it cut Clinton's double digit lead to a single digit. Just think of it this way. Had Obama had more time he would have matched Clinton and maybe beat her.

    And if I am not mistaken he was on his way until some kitchen sinks came flying at him...Plus other negative distraction.

    I am a betting man and I believe McSane is not up to the task of being President. He will not be able to keep up to the rigors of the job.

    While the press is showing him to be going non stop I am sure old grampa is out of breath and steam all the time but he is just trying to look good.

    I know I have grandparents McSane's age and I see these things. So I know.

    May 27, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  20. raf

    Billy, I think we should also all remember that even though Obama lost those states, Hillary still lost the nomination.

    Beca: I hope that when his SC appointees overturn Roe v. Wade, you won't think you've wasted your money. 🙂

    Getting more votes, more delegates, and more states isn't "stealing" a nomination. It's called "getting elected".

    Are you seriously saying it's unfair that someone had the nerve to run against her? I will admit that Hillary does do quite well in elections where she runs unopposed.

    May 27, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  21. Ian

    He brakes all the Federal finance laws anyway, so I'm sure he'll figure something out.

    May 27, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. Wes

    Now why on earth would the fine people of this great country of ours be hesitant to support John McBush, R-AZ? Why should the past seven years really matter? It's not the facts right, just the strange way The Dumb and McBush can spin them?

    Other than the economy, the Iraq War, the environment, health care, immigration, world leadership, the Middle East, energy, job loss, retirement programs, education, trade deficit, the drug war, foreign sell off and oil prices....... Bush has done great hasn't he?


    May 27, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Mr. King

    Hey John, your talking to a Republican, you should no better not to expect a strait anwer or the truth. Oh ya, same goes for Billary.

    May 27, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. tidho

    people won't give to the candidate that isn't pushing for a fast exit from Iraq?....shocker!

    Right or wrong on Iraq as long as his opinion and public opinion are so far apart he's not going to be able to cash in.

    May 27, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  25. Wayne

    McSame is a old sick man and he wants to finish his political career
    in the white house. Thats all he is looking for.

    Would he survive the next 4 years? That is in question.

    To bring america out of this mess and improve relations with other world leaders requires a young energetic man
    like Barack Obama!

    Hillary is toast anyways. Put the old style politics to rest.

    Therefore republicans, wake up and go for change !

    Obama for President!

    May 27, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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