Friday, September 5, 2008



By Jonathan D. Salant
Sept. 5, 2008

John McCain's campaign expects to leave the Republican National Convention with $200 million in the bank and be able to match the Democrats' spending in the next two months, an aide said.

McCain will depart from the St. Paul, Minnesota, convention with $84.1 million in federal funds and the Republican National Committee will have about $125 million, the campaign aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Fundraisers are working to bring in another $80 million to $100 million over the next two months, the aide said.

With an increase in fundraising following McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, Republicans say they are no longer in danger of being swamped by Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign cash.

``The money game is essentially off the table now,'' said Eddie Mahe, a former deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Obama, 47, has raised more than $400 million for his presidential campaign. Since clinching the nomination in June, he has raised about $80 million a month for his campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

His fundraising goal, if met, may mean $100 million more to spend on the campaign than the Republicans.

Clinton Fundraisers

At the Democratic National Convention in Denver last month, Obama aides met with many of those who raised more than $200 million for New York Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and asked them to help.

``They went in and said, `Look, we can't do this without you. We need you,''' said former Democratic National Committee National Chairman Steve Grossman, a former Clinton fundraiser who is now working for Obama.

Many of Obama's more than 2 million donors have given less than the maximum $2,300, and Obama's campaign sent e-mails appealing for more donations after Palin's convention speech Sept. 3.

``What you didn't hear from the Republicans at their convention is a single new idea about how to make the health- care system work, get our economy moving for the middle class, or improve education,'' Obama wrote. ``Just attacks -- on me, and on you.''

The campaign reported taking in $10 million after Palin's speech, the most it ever raised in one day.

Palin Effect

``Sarah Palin's attacks have rallied our supporters in ways we never expected,'' Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said.

McCain fundraisers say Palin, who supports gun owners' rights and opposes abortion rights, has caused formerly recalcitrant Republicans to open their checkbooks.

``She's energized the base,'' said former New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato, who has raised at least $250,000 for McCain, 72. ``Money will not be a problem.''

The day after her speech, Palin, 44, signed a fundraising e-mail.

``Your support is very important as we face the Obama Democrats and their vicious attacks,'' Palin wrote.

In the last two days, the Republican National Committee has taken in $17 million, a campaign aide said. McCain reported raising $10 million just after the Aug. 29 announcement of Palin as his vice-presidential choice; the campaign took in more than $47 million in August, its biggest fundraising month.

Obama has yet to disclose his August figures, due at the Federal Election Commission Sept. 20.

McCain can no longer take in private donations except to pay certain legal and accounting costs, so all the money raised goes to the national party and some state parties. In addition, McCain can turn over any leftover money in his primary account to the Republican National Committee.

``There will be more than enough funds to do everything that needs to be done,'' Mahe said. ``They will not have to make a decision not to do something because of money.''