This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," October 25, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Coming up next on the "Journal Editorial Report," Barack Obama's bonanza. He abandoned his pledge to take public financing and raised record amounts of cash. Now he's outspending his opponent three to one on the airwaves. We'll take a closer look at what all that money can buy.
And he's promising change. But if the Democrats win the White House and build on their majority in Congress, Americans can be in for more change than they bargained for. Coming up, what a liberal super-majority might do in Washington.
The "Journal Editorial Report" begins right now.
Welcome to "the Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
Americans may not be going to the polls for another ten days but by one important measure, Barack Obama has already trounced John McCain. According to figures released this week, the Democrat raised an astounding $150 million in September giving him a huge advantage over his publicly financed rival in the final weeks of the campaign. He's using the cash to blanket the airways in battleground states with ads like this.
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AD NARRATOR: John McCain's health care plan. First we learned he's going to tax health care benefits to pay for part of it. Now the "Wall Street Journal" reports John McCain would pay for the rest of his health care plan with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid. $882 billion from Medicare alone. Requiring cuts in benefits, eligibility or both. John McCain taxing the health benefits, cutting Medicare. We can't afford John McCain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Here with a look at what else that $150 million can buy, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor Dan Henninger, columnist Bret Stephens, opinionjournal.com columnist John Fund and Washington columnist Kim Strassel.
Kim, so how big an advantage over McCain, how much is it contributing to the lead of Barack Obama is this financial edge?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: I think his lead is significant. It's not just the ad you were talking about although the ads are important. I was hearing in places like Denver, Colorado, a huge important swing state, that Barack Obama is spending seven times what John McCain is spending on ads there. The more important thing is boots on the ground. This money pays for volunteers to go out and go around these battleground states. In places like Virginia where I live, Barack Obama has more than 50 field offices compared to about 19 or 20 for John McCain. These are the people who get everyone out to vote on the day. This is partly reflected in the polls.
GIGOT: These are the pay operatives because there's an awful lot more than 19 boots on the ground. There are a lot more volunteers.
STRASSEL: No, those are the number of field offices. And, yes, there's a huge number of volunteers throughout the campaign but these are the people coordinating everything. In that Barack Obama has outmatched John McCain.
GIGOT: Dan, one thing we've learned in politics over the years, negative ads work when they aren't answered.
DAN HENNNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: That's exactly right. And both campaigns have been running a lot of them. Obviously, Obama's been running a lot more.
The other thing we're learning here is Obama has introduced innovations. This is the best campaign that money can buy. Last week he ran 50,000 30-second spots. But he is even running commercials that last a minute or even two minutes, 120 seconds. The innovation there is you can say more in a commercial like that. It's like a mini documentary. It breaks through the normal advertising clutter. It gets people's attention.
The other thing he's done, which no one's noticed is the amount of Internet advertising, which we know is the biggest thing in advertising now. Obama has run 914 million ads on the Internet. By contrast John McCain has run 7.8 million. This is 117-1 ratio in Internet advertising.
GIGOT: Part of the problem, John, is McCain is lacking the money to run all the messages and positive spots. Obama's running positive spots too but to answer some of those negative spots, for example, to claim he would pay for those programs by cutting Medicare by $800 billion. I think that's a rebuttable proposition but you don't have the money to do it, you can't rebut it.
JOHN FUND, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: Obama's fighting a dozen fronts. McCain because of the lack of money and resources has to respond two or three of those fronts. The rest basically has to go by the boards.