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)


    May 27, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. Tyme4chaing

    No one wants to support the Bush policies...that why McCain is not getting the support he needs. Bush is the only source he has left.

    He was hoping that Obama would use PAC funds that he could use PAC funds as well. McCain is having a trouble getting PAC funds too. Obama said if he became Presidential Nominee he would consider it So, until then, McCain has to play the waiting game.

    May 27, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. 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 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Kris In Atlanta

    It is so hard to understand how people voted for Bush in '04 amidst the Iraq war and several scandals emerging from within his administration-not to mention the 2000 election farce. And now these same people are supporting Mccain-and demanding that Hillary supporters do the same! As if the sky will fall if Obama is elected. Give me a break. John Mccain can't possibly turn anything around in America because he is part of the problem that got us where we are now. Obama on the other hand is highly educated and extremely competent and he has the single characteristic that defines great leaders: He listens. Mccain doesn't listen to anybody because he has "experience". Well, experience gave us George Bush in 2004. I want a president who is not trapped in some post World War 2 time warp. A president who understands that war costs-in more ways than one. I'm not gonna let the press cast my vote: I'm voting for tomorrow -not 25 years ago.

    Obama '08

    May 27, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. No more Rigged Elections in America

    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.

    May 27, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. NickNas

    Always remember people. There are FAR more poor people than Rich and the Rich HATE to spend their money. As long as the Common Man keeps supporting the Candidate that has THEIR interests in mind and are not simply a tool for the RICH the Rich will LOSE.

    GO OBAMA!!

    May 27, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Independent-Cuban-American-woman-voter-for-Obama

    Oh my! Where are ALL those "HILLARY OR MCCAIN" supporters! Why are you not putting your money where your mouth is?

    I suspect that the Republicans know that they are going to lose so why waste money? When I looked at the totals of all three campaigns it is obvious that McCain is not being supported. By this time in 2000 Bush had $200 million in his coffers. This is a very telling sign of what the RNC really thinks!

    Again, all of you Hillary & McCain supporters..... why not give up your hard earned money? These two need your help.

    May 27, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Charlotte

    The protesters at McCains rally are cut from the same cloth as the cowards that spit on our Vietnam Vets. I for one will never stand by and let that happen again, not ever. They will carry a poster but won't serve their country. These are Obama supporters, the young cowards we will need in an emergency, God help us all.

    May 27, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. No more Clintons

    The Clinton's Legacy:

    Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Whitewater, the White House travel office firings, White House coffees and Lincoln bedroom stays for donors, FBI background files on Republicans, missing documents and the presidential pardon of a fugitive friend.

    Anyone But Hillary!

    May 27, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Ready for Change

    McCain will raise the money he needs for the general election. You can see with all the money Obama spends, he cant beat Hillary even outspending her 3 or 4 to 1, so money should not really be an issue for McCain. Unless Hillary decides to be on the ticket with Obama, McCain will get many of her supporters no matter what he spends. I won't be writing Hillary's name in, I will be voting for Hillary or McCain.

    May 27, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Pistoff

    McCain is a two time loser going for three ... not a good investment.

    May 27, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. kim portland, oregon

    all you haters who believe war and fighting is the answer to the world's problems are clueless, and you will thank us when your life gets TONS better with a democratic president and congress.

    you may like to vote against your own best interests, but fortunately there are more of us who actually believe in ourselves and the country and are demanding a better life! you're welcome!

    dems in '08!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 27, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. Chi4Obama

    I still don't understand McShame's financial woes.
    If if came down to it, couldn't Cindy McShame take a page from
    Hillary's book, and loan her husband's campaign money?

    Also, "Jeanie Martindale" – May 27th, 2008 1:56 pm ET:
    LOL to your comment. Funny but true.

    May 27, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Observer

    Obama's accomplishments:

    1. President of Harvard Law review
    2. Junior senator
    3. Sat in Reverend Wright's hate-filled church for 20 years
    4. Makes Ted Kennedy proud
    5. Won over Oprah
    6. Endorsed by Hamas
    7. A good speaker
    8. Wrote a book about hope
    9. He says he is breaking from the past

    And which of these qualify him to be President?

    Please feel free to add any quantifiable domestic/foreign national leadership accomplishments.

    May 27, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Sandy

    Charlotte, you are so mistaken. Both Obama and Clinton will protect Roe vs. Wade. McCain, on the other hand, has already said he will appoint conservative judges who will overturn Roe vs. Wade.

    But you go ahead and trust the safety and welfare of your daughters, grandaughters, and nieces to McCain. When they have to go outside the country to get a safe and legal abortion you be sure and tell them you voted for McCain.

    Frankly, what you think of a candidate's wife shouldn't matter, they aren't the one running the country. At the very least you could do is wait to see what kind of spouse she would make in the White House, and what her true values are. You know, you obviously didn't mind Bill Clinton's conduct in the White House with the intern, or Hillary supporting him in that conduct.

    May 27, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. James, SC

    You know that this discussion will be closed when it hits 50 ~ 75 comments. CNN does not allow negative comments about John McCain to run as long Senators Obamam and Clinton.

    May 27, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Barb, San Diego

    To John Roberts-why are you so worried about McCain's money--
    better worry about your own money as you may be unemployed sooner than you think--

    May 27, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. MS in SC

    The corporations will fork over the money to the RNC to keep THEIR SUPPORTER(s) in office-if they think they can succeed. Of course, advertizing money may not work as well this year if the voters decide that they have really had enough of the Republican machine. If voters refuse "to buy" whatever arguments they come up with because of their last seven years of disreagarding the good of the American worker, then we can look forward to an election that removes their influence and gives a new way of governing a chance to overturn the miseries of the last years of the "Republican Way".

    May 27, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. NoMcSame

    All of the money in the world can't get you voted in. We don't want McSame As Bush for the next four years. Now go sit down and take a nap.

    May 27, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  20. Always Democrat

    Its sad that Hillary's supporters are choosing to view her evident loss as sexist. Remember, Hillary had dominated the polls for months and maintained double digits leads over Obama for a significant time. But people began to listen to Obama and they did what humans do: They changed their minds. Hillary was a terrific candidate-but she has lost. That is something both she and her supporters need to accept so that we, as a party and a nation, can move on. Now the next responsible thing for Hillary and her supporters to do is help re-unite the party so that we can win in November and pursue an agenda that Democrats believe in, and help to end that madness in Iraq and preserve a woman's right to choose-things that make us Democrats in the first place.

    Remember, a vote for Mccain is a vote for George Bush, Dick Cheney, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, a continuing Iraq war, and the status quo. Don't throw your vote away. Hillary may have lost but we will in November if we come together!

    May 27, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  21. Jaime

    McCain is dealing with fund raising issues because he isn't connecting with people. As a result, the RNC is getting donations because the party faithful trust them more than him. That's the story here.

    If McCain can't connect with voters in his base and Hillary isn't on the ticket (polarizing figure) – there's precious little that can be done to really energize that base for a strong voter turnout. The gay marriage card won't work this time.

    This bodes well for Obama.

    May 27, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. tj

    Money won't buy this election for Obama. We will not have the socialist leftest Obama and Move running this country.

    May 27, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. Dustin

    Hey Billy, you failed to mention that Obama trailed Clinton by 20+ points in most of those states, and he was able to make up a lot of that ground with that advertising in a very short time. Take your Hillary banner down and go cry in the corner. It's over.

    May 27, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. Tony

    John Mc"Bush" reminds me of Old Mr. Wilson from the Dennis the Menace days. Old, cranky, mumbling, crotchety neighbor no one wants in their neighborhood, let alone running the country.

    His ideas are as old as he is. VOTE DEMOCRAT!

    May 27, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. Bayou Joe

    In the end the McCain victory over Obama will not be guided by his ability to raise money. McCain's victory will come because of people like me and my family whose sons and daughters are in uniform. They chose to serve our country as I did and my father before me. We love our country. We will die for it in a minute and defend it from enemies outside and inside it's borders. WE will not surrender to
    the Islamic Jihadists and we will not vote for Barak Obama.

    There will be no Bama in our Whitehouse.

    May 27, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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