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. Tired of W, OH

    NO WE McCAN'T!!

    May 27, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. Polly

    Dear " Obama is the one " can you understand that ABORTION is not an issue to a lot of people in this country?
    IF or when your candidate will start telling us about issues ,
    what he will do about economy ,
    TAXES ,

    and not sermons"YES WE CAN "
    than and only than we will consider him
    P.S. I still don"t like HIM

    May 27, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. Richard, FL

    Let's try to be fair here. Obama has won the most committed delegates, superdelegates, states, and the POPULAR VOTE. It is Hillary who is trying to STEAL the victory by claiming that she won Michigan by the greatest margin in the history of free elections: 328,309 to ZERO. No one REALLY believes that.
    No one can explain how Obama can STEAL an election by following the rules. It is Hillary who AGREED to the rules and now wants to change them.
    Let's try to be fair here.

    May 27, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Ratgurl

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

    May 27, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. Carl Los Angeles

    He's having problems because BUSH screwed us already with a $12 trillion rip off... McSame you should go to your friends if you need money; you know them Chevron, WalMart, Enron, Halliburton, Coutrywide, Exxon-Mobil and the wheels on the bus go round and round!

    May 27, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Tom


    Don't expect "honesty" from CNN. They are nothing more than a secular fundamentalist lapdog of the Democratic Party.

    May 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Randy - Denver

    What was left unsaid was that the RNC has outraised the DNC in the last few elections. It appears that the DNC is going to outraise the RNC in this election, that IMPLIES (not a fact here folks but simply an inferance) that the DNC is supported by more people and therefore more likely to win the General Election. This means that we are VERY likely to have a Democrat for President next time, in it looks like that Democrat will be Mr. Obama.

    A comment to those who say Mr. obama does not represent rural America and therefore does not represent America. bad news folks more people live in urban and suburban areas in the US, places carried by Mr. Obama, than live in rural America. He DOES represent the REAL America not the America everyone thinks we are but the America we really are! He represents me,a 47 year old, white male, retired enlisted military (21 years), father of three. Not some starry eyed college student, not some stuck in the 50s (that did not really exist) aging racist but a hard working real person.

    May 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Marie

    McCain won't need any extra cash as the only hope he has for votes will come from his base and he doesn't need to promote himself to these people as they have already proven they'll vote for a moron. Ergo advertising to attract voters to support an identical agenda that has been in place for the past 7+ years will simply be a waste of money. The decision is quite clear people who are happy with what has happened over the past 7+ years will vote for John and those who don't like your country's direction over this period of time will vote against him regardless who is running as the opposition.

    May 27, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Portland, OR

    It is probably the right time to point out to all BHO supporters that are namecalling out of frustration, say like "Obama is the one", that they themselves are perhaps "IDIOTS" iff they expect that by calling al the women who support HRC idiots they are going to sway them in November to vote for Hillary. And for the record women are a majority in this country. So if I were you, I would watch what I say. It is a pity that they cannot unite themselves and vote for their own candidate. African Americans as a race are voting 91-9 in favour of Hillary. What is wrong if women vote along their gender? Why is that wrong. Or are you just frustrated that Hillary won't go away the way you want her to. too bad. So grow up. Or shoudl I say "man up". And by the way there are also a lot of men who are perfectly comfortable in their masculinity to vote for Hillary coz she is the right candidate – unlike some of you who have an issue with a woman being a president. So man up dude and grow a pair. Get over you sexist views.

    May 27, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. Mikey

    To Billy from Florida

    I think we should all remember that Hillary had a much bigger and stronger organization, much more money going in, most of the movers and shakers in the DNC behind her, and a former President of the United States campaigning for her full time, and she still lost 32 of 51 contests and is almost 200 delegates behind.

    May 27, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Griff

    i DON'T BELIEVE THAT!!!!!! Learn..... Learn to listen... in 2000 George Bush Jr, had 2.5% more than McCain, to run on... Bush is out of this one.... The Millions will come... The day will be won...
    Spreading Rumour's is for Idiot's.............Go be an Idiot by yourself...

    May 27, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Ken

    McSame already has money problems, and he thinks he can help the economy. I don't think so!

    GO OBAMA!!!!!

    May 27, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. Charlotte

    Judges have to be approved by the Senate. Roe v Wade will not be overturned. It has been tried and tried with no success. All these young girls that support Obama have no idea the struggles women have had for years. Hillary Clinton is the best choice for this country. I will write her name on my ballot in November, and if she doesn't win then I hope that my vote for her helps helps McCain. I do not trust Obama and I sure can't stand Michelle.

    May 27, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. jimmy velman


    May 27, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Tired of W, OH

    "Obama is the One" wrote: 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?

    Yes, many of the people that post on CNN are Limbaugh's Operation Chaos republicans. Don't give their comments too much weight, unless you just want to use them as a gauge to indicate how desperate the GOP is this election.

    May 27, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. Jeanie Martindale

    McSame comes off as the cranky old man who yells at the paper boy because the paper didnt land on the porch. His speeches put you to sleep and are so rambling I cant tell what the message is...maybe THATS why no one wants to give him their hard earned money!!!!

    May 27, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Rico in Arkansas

    Billy from Florida :

    I find it funny that pundits and bloggers keep on bringing up the fact that Obama out spent HRC 3-1.

    He Had The Money! If I got 3 times more than you; of course, if I spend it, I will spend more than you! I agree he lost those races, but what kind of idiot would he be to out raise her so convincingly and then sit on the money. He used the money for what it was intended for so please add that to your comment instead of just pointing out the view that helps HRC's arguement.

    I will vote democrat regardless this year and I don't need to point out only things that help Obama to get satisfaction.

    May 27, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. kim portland, oregon

    mccain's got more than his pitiful fundraising to worry about--his votes against the troops when he of ALL people should SUPPORT our troops; Bush; his pledge to continue the failed policies of the WORST president with the WORST "approval" ratings in the history of this country; Bush; his flip-flopping extraordinaire; Bush; his lack of knowledge of the middle east; Bush; SUPPORTING the failed invasion of iraq; Bush; embracing a new FAILED invasion of iran; Bush; his own staff ABANDONING his camp in droves b/c they cant support him for president (the people who know him BEST dont think he'd make a good president!!); Bush; his war-mongering and war-profiteering ways; Bush; and the list goes on and on ad nauseam...

    he may have been a hero 40 years ago, but he is a disgrace today!!!

    May 27, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. The Old Guard

    May 27th, 2008 1:42 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    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 nominee…"

    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 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. CW4Barak

    Maybe he can get some money from his twin sister HRC....oh, wait she is in debt....again!! There will be no country for old men! Say no to this warmonger!!

    Obama '08

    May 27, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. Tom

    LOL "Tired"

    You think many Republicans would come to CNN? LOL

    May 27, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Canuck

    operation chaos.

    May 27, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Karen P

    As long as McCain caters to only small groups, of course it will be hard to raise money. Until he says more about the economy and less about his patriotism, it will be hard to raise money.

    So far, McCain acts like he's trying out for a Pentagon position, not the Presidency. Hey, this country needs a president who can lead the nation, not just Iraq.

    May 27, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Proud American

    Thats only one of a million things he'll be grappling with.

    May 27, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. MillionMan, Washington, DC

    I am confused by Hillary supporters who indicate they will vote for McCain if Obama gets the Dem. nomination! Are you folks not Democrats!!?? Would you really prefer to cut off your nose just to spite your face?
    McCain is not an independent! He is a Bush Republican! He has sold out any "maverick inclinations" in him to pander to the right-wing conservative base of the Republicans. His reversal on the tax cuts, his speech on appointing conservative judges, his denial of not having voted for Bush, etc. all speak to this pandering.
    Obama is a black man running for president. He has received Secret Service protection earlier than any other candidate in history. His life, his wife's life and the lives of their two daughters are being threatened every day. Would not only a patriot go through this!?
    Don’t Obama and Hillary agree on most major issues!?
    Thus, the questions become: Are you more racist than Democrat!?
    Are you more racist than pro choice!? Are you more racist than anti-tax cuts for the rich!?

    May 27, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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