Weekly Presidential Politics - 10/24/07
How important is money in politics? Important enough that the quintiessential conservative dropped out of the Republican Primary because he could never gain traction. So, Sam Brownback, the conservative alternative Republicans have been dreaming about, bows out of a crowded field and goes home to Kansas.
Look at the four Republican candidates who actually have a chance to garner the nomination. The poll leader, Rudi Giuliani, is a social liberal. The former leader, John McCain, supports an unpopular war and has crossed party lines on numerous issues, irritating many members of the GOP. The leader in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney, has a history of criticizing key Republican issues like abortion and gay rights, and, as a Mormon, is not exactly in step with the powerful Christian wing of the Republican Party. Finally, Fred Thompson, long thought of as the conservative savior, has shown a distinct inability to rally the base, and has lost points in nearly all national and early primary polls.
So why are they the leaders in the GOP polls? They are all huge names and fantastic fundraisers. I appreciate the argument that their palpability is the reason they can fundraise, but I'm disinclined to adhere to that in this case because of two reasons.
1. The money differential between the contenders and the non-contenders is too gross to conclude that anything but the money is chief reason why contenders contend and non-contenders do not. The contenders raise seven digits (often eight). The non-contenders are lucky to crack seven digits and spend nearly all of it just to break into polls.
Let's look at why they can fundraise. Rudy Giuliani was a huge name after 9/11 and was able to fundraise. John McCain has been a national name for decades. Mitt Romney has given tens of millions of dollars to his own campaign. Fred Thompson gets publicity every time his Law & Order series airs, not to mention Die Hard 2, Necessary Roughness, and Iron Eagle III. Does the fact that they're huge names or richer make the more qualified to be President then the lesser candidates, or, even, potential candidates? Of course not.
2. The Republicn constituency has been dying for a true conservative... and he was there the whole time. No one could every doubt Brownback's conservative record as Senator from Kansas. Every single debate he would remind them of this. He had been modeling it for years.
But without money... who cares?
Ask Dennis Kucinich how much voting your ideology helps in a national election without the funds to ram a platform down the throat of America.
Someone justify this.