As America emerges from the long 4th of July week(end), the presidential candidates press ever onward.
Everyone is still coming to grips with and spinning about the second quarter fundraising figures, not all of which are available yet — that won’t be till the middle of the month — but much of which has been announced.
The top Democrats are vastly out-raising the top Republicans. In fact, Barack Obama, who raised a record amount for a non-incumbent presidential candidate, has more contributors to his campaign than do all the Republican presidential candidates combined. Obama had 104,000 contributors in the first quarter — which is still more than any Republican has — and another 154,000 new contributors in the second quarter. He’s doing it by raising very big money from conventional contributors, and record amounts on the Internet and among people who have attended his large rallies.
Obama, counted out by the Washington political and media establishments in recent weeks — an almost sure sign of the opposite, naturally — dropped a bomb on the campaign with $31 million raised in the second quarter that is usable for the primaries. Hillary Clinton trailed far behind with $21 million.
Which in turn was far more than any Republican raised. Or any Democrat, for that matter.
John Edwards barely stayed in the game with $9 million for the quarter, down from $14 million in the first quarter, and found himself sliding out of the first tier in most estimations into a leading position in the second tier, still ahead of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who raised over $7 million.
Edwards still has a lead, although quite slender, in most polls of the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, a state in which he has camped out since his stint as as the Democrats’ 204 vice presidential nominee.
This week, he’ll be campaigning in Nevada, the second contest for the nomination. Edwards, thought by some to be a natural for Nevada, with its major labor presence, has trailed badly there behind Clinton and Obama. He also, like some of the other candidates of both parties, will appear at the NAACP national convention in Detroit. For their part, Republicans have the national College Republicans convention coming up in Arlington, Virginia.
Feeling the heat, big time, which they clearly anticipated — notwithstanding their successful spin of most of the media about her supposed inevitability — Bill and Hillary Clinton did a three-day tour of Iowa last week that marked the first time that the former president has publicly campaigned with his wife in her new incarnation as presidential candidate. It was a mixed blessing for her campaign, since he’s much better at this than she.
The pair bring their new duo road show to New Hampshire at the end of the week. Clinton has a lead there in the primary, but a tentative one.
On the Republican side, Fred Thompson will continue gearing up for an expected announcement of candidacy this month. You can tell he’s a major contender, even if you don’t buy the Rasmussen robopoll in which he now leads Rudy Giuliani nationally, because the hits are starting to come in the media. The latest, just emerging now, which he’ll have to deal with this week, is that he lobbied for abortion rights as a lawyer/lobbyist. The evidence seems sketchy.
John McCain is just back now from visiting the troops in Iraq. It was a good thing for him that he was out of the country when his campaign announced its finances.
He didn’t have to explain how a campaign that raised $25 million in the first half of the year — below expectations but still healthy — had only $2 million cash on hand, less than Ron Paul. McCain has to make a big choice. Take federal matching funds, which would bring him a quick $6 million, making him competitive again, but hamstringing his ability to compete should he win the nomination and, constrained by federal spending limits, go up against mega-fundraisers Clinton or Obama in the general election.
McCain has cut his staff by two-thirds and now will focus on the first four states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, with the former frontrunner hoping to revive his campaign for a second time this year after seeing it smothered by his co-authorship of the failed comprehensive immigration bill.
Giuliani will campaign in New Hampshire this week, as will the Granite State’s erstwhile neighbor Mitt Romney. Giuliani actually bested Romney in second quarter fundraising, though the former Massachusetts governor — who has spent millions in unanswered TV advertising in the early states, building leads in Iowa and New Hampshire — pulled ahead by loaning his campaign $6.4 million from his personal fortune.
Giuliani has more cash on hand than Romney. But Romney can change that by whipping out his checkbook. Still, his candidacy is in trouble. His non-household fundraising dropped by 30 percent in the second quarter and Fred Thompson, a more authentic conservative, is warming up in the wings.
The Republican race is wide open.