It’s another week in presidential politics, a funny sort of week with the Fourth of July in its mid-section. This will be a week about fundraising, patriotism, fundraising, terrorism, fundraising, Iraq, fundraising, immigration, fundraising, global warming, fundraising, and revelations of a sort.
The big news is the spin game around the second quarter fundraising totals, which are just coming out.
And the big news in the big news is all about Obama.
The 45-year old freshman senator from Illinois outraised Hillary and the vaunted Clinton machine by at least $10 million in dollars that can be used in the primaries. “At least” $31 million to $21 million. The gap is somewhat less in funds raised for both the primaries and the general election, but still huge, with Obama taking in at least $32.5 million to Clinton’s $27 million. The then start-up Barack machine also out-raised Clinton in primary dollars during the first quarter of the year.
Not surprisingly, Hillary has called in the big dog himself, President Bill, for a July 2-4 tour of Iowa. He’ll campaign with her later in the month in New Hampshire, too.
The former First Couple is touting something called HillCam, by which supporters can watch “behind the scenes” footage of the pair as they campaign together for the first time in this campaign. That means they can watch the former president dialing for dollars. Not.
Actually, the Clintons are probably still slightly out-raising Obama in the traditional big-donor sense. However, Obama is blowing them away by using the Internet to amass an Army of Davids, if you will, online contributors who are also signing up as campaign volunteers. The big crowds he’s been drawing around the country are virtually morphing into something even more tangible than momentary real world excitement.
Obama has over 250,000 contributors now, more than the leading Republican candidates combined. Obama’s totals are a record for any Democratic primary campaign, as well as a record for any non-incumbent presidential candidate. Only President Bush, running for re-electtion in 2003, raised more, and not by much.
John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee who might be leading if two superstars weren’t running, raised $5 million less this quarter than the first, and now Bill Richardson is hard on his heels. Edwards took in $14 million in the first quarter, and now $9 million this quarter. Meanwhile, Richardson’s $6 million-plus went up to $7 million-plus in the second quarter. But Edwards did come close — thanks to the latest half-witty attack on him by right-wing commentatrix Ann Coulter — to his goal of 100,000 total contributors for the campaign, a goal Obama surpassed in the first quarter.
And what about the Republicans? Republicans are much more tightlipped about their fundraising, which trailed the Democrats by a large margin in the first quarter and look to do the same for the second quarter.
Mitt Romney’s the leader again. The other leading announced candidates — Rudy Giuliani, who still leads most national polls, and runs the best against Democrats, and John McCain, who’s trying to resurrect his campaign for the second time this year — look to raise about the same amount, or less, than last time around.
While Romney led the way again for Republicans in fundraising, he did so
by less than in the first quarter, when he raised a little over $20 million, with the candidate contributing an unknown amount from his personal fortune to keep his financial edge. Romney has spent millions in essentially unanswered TV advertising in the earliest states — and has leads in Iowa and New Hampshire as a result.
Fred Thompson will be focusing on getting an official campaign off the ground later this month after a successful tour last week of Tennessee, where he will have his headquarters, along ith South Carolina, and New Hampshire. Last week, he had to work to fend off press questions about his lucrative past as a part-time lobbyist. This week, he gets to answer questions about his sons’ work as lobbyists.
Giuliani is sure to emphasize terrorism in the wake of the largely thwarted — so far — Islamic jihadist attacks in Britain.
He had already started talking it up around the failed immigration bill — which had been cleverly crafted by George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy and, um, John McCain — to offend key constituencies in both major parties, talking up his plan to ID and track all foreigners in their comings and goings. For his part, McCain is visiting the troops on the Fourth of July. While his backing of the Iraq War has hurt his once strong standing with independent voters, it’s a way to emphasize his Vietnam War hero background, rouse those Republicans still enthusiastic about the war, and get the focus off immigration, which was smothering his candidacy.
But immigration will continue to percolate on the front burner, with Giuliani and all the major candidates except McCain emphasizing that the bill just defeated last week would have done little to secure the border. Nevertheless, Republicans happy to be on a winning side might consider that Democratic frontrunners Clinton and Obama voted for the controversial 700-mile border fence with Mexico last year, of which about 11 miles has been constructed.
In other Democratic action, the field will appear before the ACORN convention of left-liberal community organizers and the NAACP convention.
And climate change will be a huge issue this week with Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts around the world on July 7th. All the Democrats are on the bandwagon against the greenhouse effect, as is possible independent candidate Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York pictured last month on the cover of Time magazine with climate change crusader Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Republicans running for president aren’t so much into it, however. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain say the greenhouse effect is a big problem to be dealt with — McCain having co-authored a bill to control greenhouse gases with Senator Joe Lieberman — but the others are still skeptics or at least quiet on the issue. Possible candidate Newt Gingrich was supposed to debate John Kerry on the greenhouse effect in April.
Until it became apparent that Gingrich basically agreed with Kerry.