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. Casey

    Wow Beca how exactly did Barack steal the nomination from Hillary? He has flat out, out campaigned, out energized, and out motivated people and that will carry over into the general election when he will have three times the money John McCain has...then John McCain and Republican get to see what kind of power the new democratic party can wield with a whole new constituency...P.S. Beca this coming from a Hillary supporter you would be ignorant to ignore even your own candidates words and vote for someone (John McCain) who doesn't support any of the policies that Hillary supports over someone who supports and cherishes the same values and principles that Hillary does, and by that I mean Barack...Shame on you

    May 27, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. Peter E

    Money or not, Obama has now become the underdog in the general election. And it's not because of Hillary's spite. It's because Obama supporters have been calling her supporters 'idiot' or even worse 'racist' since January. They've pushed Hillary supporters out of the party, telling them to stay down, shut up, nobody wants to hear their voice. You still wonder, after all these insults hurled at them why they are turning in droves towards McCain? Do you truly believe that after you call somebody an 'idiot' they'll immediately surrender and say 'you're right, I'll vote for your candidate now?'

    May 27, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. Blake

    @ Beca and Billy

    The nomination was HRC to loose, and by all calculations she has. He has nearly a 200 delegate lead. 160 are pledged voted for by the people delegates.

    Obama spent 3 to 1 more on advertising to get his message out. In the marketing industry this is called competing against an established brand. When you compete against an established brand, you have to out spend on advertising.

    Obama also had the money to spend. I have a feeling that if Hillary had such a surplus of funds she would spend every dime. She has spent every dime and dimes to be named later. When your campaign is 20-30 million in debt because you can not keep up with the donations from your rival it looks bad. He forced her to spend more money then she wanted to and see where she is today on funds. In the hole.

    It is amazing to me the shear numbers of people that are contributing to Obama's campaign. It is amazing to say the least.

    When so many people donate to a Obama's campaign, one has to ask why? Why are so many people getting involved? When you see the answer to that question, you will see why the Obama train will keep on rolling all the way to 1600 N Pennsylvania in January.

    May 27, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Chris Crew

    No big surprise here. McCain is not very exciting. He offers very little more than FOUR more years of GW Bush. Not too many are interested in giving their money to see Bush's policies continued. The 71% disapproval ratings can attest to that!

    Some feel like this is "Republican bashig" but its just reporting the truth: Obama has set a host of fundraising records while McCain is doing far worse than Bush did eight years ago. Obama generally raises twice as much each month and the money is coming in the form of small donations (over 1,000,000) from regular people.

    May 27, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Thanks for the reminder

    This reminds me, I need to send some cash from my stimulus check to Obama.

    Obama for Prez!

    May 27, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Barack the Vote in RI

    To "Peter E":

    Of course McSame did ok.....HE DIDN"T HAVE ANY COMPETITION!!!!

    Obama did.

    May 27, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Rave

    McCain is an Idiot. Neither he has any idea about economy nor foreign Policy. Please get a life in your last days Old Brat

    May 27, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. Linda from Prescott

    Senator McCain will not win the white house no matter how much money he raises. The
    American people cannot be fooled any longer...we do not want four more years of Bush policies...we want change, therefore we
    want Senator Obama.
    Yes we do!

    May 27, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Beca

    To "Obama is the One". Yes, I used to be a Republican, and for the first time I switched to the Democrats, but boy, I am so regret it, you people are a buch of cry babies that do not respect other people's view.

    May 27, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. sprkl12000

    The article is about McCain's lack of ability to raise funds for his own campaign, not that Obama outspent Hillary and still lost that primary(but yet he is still AHEAD OF HER)...and he isn't STEALING the nomination from Billary...she GAVE IT TO HIM on a SILVER lengths people go through to bash Obama...ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!

    Please go ahead and vote for probably were gonna do that anyway..closet

    And why aren't the citizens of Florida and Michigan NOT marching/complaining to their REPUBLICAN Governors for moving up the primary and BREAKING THE RULES OF THE DNC???

    Misplaced anger towards Obama won't change the fact that YOUR OWN GOVERNORS MESSED YOU OVER...Obama didn't...

    so many delusions, so little time!!!!!

    May 27, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. USAF Staff Sergeant

    The RNC is raising a lot of money, but from big time lobbyists. McCain himself can't raise much from ordinary citizens.

    May 27, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Hifaz-Sri lanka

    Obama / Clinton will be the next president.Dear sir please make your way home.Enough of spending money earned from iraq .Atleast save it for your loved ones.

    May 27, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. kenny cole


    May 27, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. jonny

    The moist important vote someone can cast is with their wallet. Free votes are easy, but if someone is willing to pay for their vote, then its worth much more. Republicans are bored with this election, and democrats are excited and turning out in record numbers. Obama has had over 1.5 million donors, most of which paid less than $100 – that is a HUGE amount of people donating to his campaign. Obama is going to win the GE by a landslide!

    May 27, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. The Old Guard

    Peter E said:

    "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 nomineeā€¦"

    I hate to break it to you, Pete, but he became the nominee because there wasn't a better choice. Your party was torn asunder by the division within your ranks. Given the choice between religious zealots who want to control our lives every much as the "liberal wingnuts" of which the Democratic party is accused and other plasticine players, McCain remains in the fight because of attrition.

    May 27, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Willis, Texas





    May 27, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. WHoCares

    Once the Dem primaries are over I am sure the money will start flowing in as all the negative ads by Dean as a proxy for Obama will not only rejuvenate the Republican base but will also tip the independents like me who have so far not given any side money in the primaries onto his side. Believe me, a lot of people like me believe that the "WAR" was wrong from the beginning. But having started it, we do not believe you cut and run. There is an obligation to Iraq that needs to be fulfilled. I say put a 50% tax on all those people who voted Bush into power – a so called war TAX. And put an additional 100% tax on Heinz Company and that joker John Kerry for losing the election to Bush who has an IQ of .5. You cannot pound a country into oblivion, that too, uninvited and then say "oh this is costing us too much. We are going to leave. Or maybe use your oil money". Well you should have thought about it before going to WAR. USA as a nation, in electing GWB, has the collective responsibility of the war. YOU CANNOT walk away from that obligation now. And NO, it is NOT OK for the war to be funded by Iraqi OIL money. That is NOT US of A's decision to make. Moral of the story – think twice before you leap into something.

    That said, of the three candidates left in the race, Obama has the least experience on any front – let alone war. The country does not need a freshman as a president. We are at a dangerous precipice in the history of the this country. We need someone with a balanced head, experience and the vision. Not just words. I would not hire someone who worked in my firm for 18 months to be the next CEO of my company. That is for a very good reason and similarly I would NOT hire a freshman senator to be the C-in-C of my country either. So to me John McCain is the most logical choice. Of course he needs to get a VP who understands the economy. And definitely that CANNOT be Carly Fiorina. Her record at HP was NOT that impressive. Anyways, I would like to see some policy debates between McCain and Hillary. Obama will stand no chance. He has flair but no depth as was quite obvious in the last debate between him and Hillary. The guy could barely explain hi sown position on capital gains!!. Oh well. The nation is love strickem. What can I say....... Its the season for "change" we can believe in .. but not change that we can "implement". There in "lies" the difference between "Idealism", as demonstrated by the so-called-educated-elitist-left-liberals, and "realism". I'll take Manet over Shakespeare any day.

    May 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. JOJOd

    So sad. No one wants to give their dollars to McStupid. Awww.

    May 27, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Uncle Sam

    It's amazing how many foolish people refer to Obama "stealing the nomination" from Hillary, like it's something she owned. He's won more delegates, that's not stealing. Grow up!

    May 27, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  20. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    What's new ? He's a loser. He is "Songbird" to the Vietnamese – ha ha ha ha ha – he LOST to Bush because he's worse than Bush.

    May 27, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. Lisa in GA.

    I cannot believe how the racisist have shown their true colors.. through out this primary season... the only sad part about it .. all those they say they will support Mccain deserve everything that the republications are to put on their b-HINDS!

    If Mccain does win .. we the people will never let him go as far as Bush... the movement will impeach him before he gets started good.. the people will be watching closely,,, all the millions that will not vote McCain... and maybe some of the dummies who do support McCain.........

    How can people vote for a man that clearly told you his stance on the govenment.. I can't tell you how to vote.. I won't even try but I do know.... what goes around comes around....

    May 27, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. Dale Wise

    McCain is unelectable. Everyone knows this.

    Once the Democratic nomination is wrapped up by Obama, you will see McCain's numbers plummet.

    Obama WILL be the next president. Period.

    May 27, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. emtp JB

    The news of President Bush going to go out today and raise campaign monies for McCain is the BEST news the Democrats could ask for! A President with the lowest approval rating with a failed foreign policy that McCain wants to continue will only help the Dems. You go President Bush!!!!

    May 27, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Charlotte

    If Hillary is not the Nominee, and it looks as if she will not be, my money will go to Mccain as I will not vote for the ultra liberal Obama. I vote country first party second. I have voted for republicans in the past when the stupid DNC pick the wrong person and will do so again. The last person I want in a crisis is another Jimmy Carter or Obama.

    May 27, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. Did you consider

    I believe that many democrats are donating to the candidate of their choice while many republicans are giving their money to the party. This helps explain some of the discrepecies. There should be a similiar amount of money available for both canidates in the fall.

    May 27, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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