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The money these candidates are raising is enough to make your jaw drop.
Just by comparison: When George W. Bush was thinking about running in '99 he raised $7.6 million, which adjusted for inflation amounts to about $9 million, give or take a bag of cash.
Hillary raised two-and-a-half times that. Mitt raised more than twice that. Obama has raised more than twice that. And Giuliani and McCain have both raised about double.
Why all the money? Because there is more than the usual intense competition for an office not being held by an incumbent or the incumbent's designated successor. This is way more intense than incumbent George H. W. Bush vs. Bill Clinton, with Perot hanging around as the spoiler, and way more intense than Bush vs. Gore, who was Clinton's designated successor.
Plus, Election Day comes early this time around. February 5 is in fact a national primary this time around. California will count this time, instead of coming so late that a state of 30 million people didn't matter. And Florida and Texas and Pennsylvania and New York are in for February, too. That means the tickets for both parties will be known by February 6, 2008. Normally the hopefuls are sloshing around New Hampshire and Iowa at that point in the campaign. This time, it will all be over but the actual Election Day in November nine months later.
So people say it will be the first $100 million president. I think they will all be lucky to keep it down to that. Hillary is on track to raise $100 million by the February primary, and while she might carry over a little, why should she, especially if it's close.
I'm no expert, but would it surprise you to see Hillary or somebody — maybe Mitt, maybe Rudy, maybe Barack — raise and spend $100 million to get the nomination and then have to go back to the donor folks and say, we've only just begun? Wouldn't surprise me.
This is an amazing process. What do these people get for all that money? I'm not suggesting any of these fine candidates for president could be bought, though it does seem to me that people who have raised that much money by bundling up crowds of friends to contribute might feel entitled to something.
That's My Word.
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