By Daniel Politi, Slate Magazine
The New York Times leads with word that Sen. John McCain is likely to rely on the Republican National Committee “to an unprecedented degree” to fund his campaign. The presumptive Republican nominee hasn’t been able to keep up with the Democratic contenders in terms of fundraising, so he will be looking to get help from the party, which has higher contribution limits. And even as McCain continues to try to distance himself from President Bush, Republican officials have made it clear they plan to use the president’s fundraising powers to help the senator from Arizona. The Washington Post leads with news that McCain’s fundraising efforts suffered another setback this weekend when Tom Loeffler, the campaign’s national finance co-chairman, resigned. Loeffler became the fifth casualty of a policy instituted last week that requires all campaign staff to either cut ties with lobbyists and outside groups or resign. The Los Angeles Times also mentions Loeffler in its lead story but focuses on looking at how Sen. Barack Obama has stepped up his rhetoric against McCain in recent days while pretty much ignoring Sen. Hillary Clinton.
The NYT points out that this presidential contest is likely to be the most expensive in history even as the competition is likely to pit against each other two candidates who have frequently criticized the role of money in politics. But now, much of their lofty rhetoric has taken a back seat to their attempts to raise huge war chests for the campaign. “It’s hard to be a reformer when you’re trying very hard to raise as much money as you can,” the president of Public Citizen said. Still, the NYT points out there are “early signs” that the influence of unregulated money into independent groups might not be as great as in previous elections.
While McCain has benefitted from the image that he’s a fighter against the influence of special interests in Washington, he’s been under increased criticism lately for his ties to lobbyists and their presence in his campaign staff. Loeffler was by far the most high-profile casualty of the new policy set up by McCain’s campaign to combat this image, and his resignation came on the same weekend as Newsweek revealed that his company did work for Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments. Meanwhile, government watchdogs and Democratic operatives contend the new policy doesn’t go far enough and say McCain must get rid of personnel who were once top lobbyists. The groups are most intensely targeting two key people in McCain’s campaign who used to run lobbying firms, Charles Black Jr., his top political adviser, and campaign manager Rick Davis.
With all the talk of the general election campaign, it’s easy to forget that the Democratic primary is still going on, but, in fact, voters in Oregon and Kentucky will go to the polls tomorrow. Campaigning in Portland yesterday, Obama drew 75,000 people to an afternoon rally, which was the biggest event yet for a campaign that is used to huge crowds. But in a sign that Obama sees the nomination race as all but over, yesterday marked the third straight day that he criticized McCain and linked the Republican senator to the unpopular president. For her part, Clinton campaigned in Kentucky, where she is likely to win on Tuesday, and emphasized that she will continue fighting for the nomination. Obama’s campaign says Tuesday’s votes will give the senator from Illinois the majority of the total pledged delegates, and to mark this milestone he will hold his election-night rally that night in Iowa. Obama said it’s “a terrific way to bring things full circle.”