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The filthy lucre that feeds all presidential campaigns

One of the presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton has been crowing about the amount of money she raised in the July through September period. If the Founding Fathers could give ear to the exclamations, they would certainly wonder what their marvelously-designed system of government had come to.

Thirteen months before the November 2008 elections, the 17 major candidates in the race as of July had raised more than $265 million, according to

The Clinton camp was crowing because it out-raised Barak Obama by $3 million in the period. Clinton took special pains to time the announcement of her fund-raising victory to coincide with Obama’s foreign policy speech that attacked her, not by name, but for her vote to approve the Iraq war. She sought to regain the psychological advantage she lost when Obama beat her in the first two quarters by a total of $15 million. Even though Obama still leads in fund-raising, $75 million to Clinton’s $63 million, having a victory is still a momentum booster as the very early primary season gets set to begin.

The price of running for president is cost prohibitive for all but a select few. The old saw of telling children they could grow up to be president is a nice thought, but becoming the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers is more attainable. While all candidates like to tout their grassroots support, if not for the millionaires and billionaires throwing lavish fund-raising events, they would not be in the race.

The 2008 election will be the most expensive in history. In 2004 President George W. Bush raised $367 million. His Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, raised $328 million. During the primary season, other candidates raised $6.8 million. Since 1992 the cost for running for president has jumped three-fold. Whoever receives the final nominations from the Republicans and Democrats will probably need to have raised $500 million each.

Granted, the organization needed to run a presidential campaign is expensive. While there is a cadre of young, wet-behind-the-ears volunteers, there are also highly-paid consultants who advise the candidates on matters of policy, and how to release news of a campaign fund-raising victory for maximum impact.

Along with presidential campaigns, congressional races are also expensive. In 2006, Rep. Jim Marshall raised more than $1.9 million. His opponent, Mac Collins, raised more than $2 million. On average a member of the House of Representatives has to raise, in the case of Marshall, $2,675 each day to fund a coming campaign that’s never more than two years away. In 2006 the 1,485 congressional candidates managed to raise more than $1.4 billion.

The question Americans need to ask is: Are we getting our money’s worth?



The Macon Telegraph

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