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Campaign notebook

With aid of RNC, big money lined up for McCain

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May 26, 2008

From the San Joaquin Valley to Wall Street, John McCain has been headlining high-dollar Republican fund-raisers, including one at a billionaire's gated home in Stockton, Calif., that asked couples to make donations of $86,200.

The events will help ensure the longtime advocate for campaign finance restrictions have the money to compete in the presidential election, even as some say the events call into question his credentials as a reformer.

McCain lags both Democrats in the race for cash. Democratic front-runner Barack Obama seemingly prints money, raising three times more than McCain. He and Hillary Clinton have raised $480 million between them - five times as much as McCain's $90.5 million.

But McCain is not without a financial savior: the Republican National Committee. The Arizona senator, as the presumed GOP nominee, now controls it. And, while McCain can raise only $2,300 per donor for the November election, the national party can raise $28,500 per donor - a limit set by the campaign finance reform that McCain championed.

By the end of April, he and the RNC had $62 million in the bank - $10 million more than Obama and the Democratic National Committee.

"Our fund-raising is increasing," McCain said in Stockton, Calif., where he held his third fund-raiser in a 24-hour period last week at the home of developer Alex Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers.

For a $2,300 donation to McCain, donors received a lapel pin. But the invitation made clear McCain wanted couples to arrive with checks for as much as $86,200. At other fund-raisers, couples have been encouraged to give $140,000 or more.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

Clinton must work to heal rifts, say N.Y. black leaders

Even as she continues her long-shot presidential bid, Hillary Clinton faces a political rift in New York, where black leaders say her standing has dropped due to racially charged comments by her and her husband during the campaign.

Black elected officials and clergy based in New York City say Clinton will need to defuse resentment over the campaign's racial overtones if she returns to New York as US senator.

State Senator Bill Perkins, who represents Harlem, said constituents recently phoned him because they wanted to demonstrate outside Bill Clinton's Harlem office against comments by the former president.

Assemblyman Karim Camara of Brooklyn, who contributed $500 to Hillary Clinton's Senate reelection campaign in 2006 and described Bill Clinton as a political hero, said the campaign must work to heal the wounds.

"She needs to go back to the black churches she visited in the course of her campaign and have a frank conversation about who she is and how much the support of the black community means," he said.

"The Clintons have their die-hard fans who would never abandon them," said state Senator Eric Adams. "But there are those New Yorkers who feel there was a lot of insult, slight, and disrespect toward an African-American candidate, and it translated as a slight to the African-American community."

Clinton's campaign declined to comment.

LOS ANGELES TIMES

McCain, Obama lay plans for fall to compete in Va.

For the first time in decades, Virginia is shaping up as a presidential battleground as advisers to John McCain and Barack Obama lay plans to compete in the fall for the state's 13 electoral votes.

Aides to McCain and to Obama, the likely Democratic nominee, say they will invest heavily in winning Virginia, which could set the stage for a barrage of television ads, voter registration drives, and campaign visits by the candidates. "I think it is a battleground state," said Rick Davis, McCain's national campaign manager. "I know they are targeting it, and we are certainly targeting it."

WASHINGTON POST

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