Why Dean is scaring the crap out of everyone
Dean has it. His opponents have a lot less of it.
Dean led the eight other candidates for the Democratic nomination by raising $7.6 million in the second quarter, and there has been a huge surge in small-dollar contributions to his campaign over the Internet and from more traditional, meet-and-greet fundraising events, Trippi said. Dean is virtually certain to win the money race -- an important measure of a candidate's popularity inside the party -- this quarter, too, according to rival campaigns. The third quarter will end Sept. 30.
Money from small contributors which none of his rivals can hope to match. He's been able to raise money in spots on the level of Bush and Cheney at a fraction of their cost. Make no mistake, Dean is running against Bush, not John Kerry. Dean has already defined the debate as who will best be able to beat Bush. The minute they start debating Dean and his tactics, the base of the party howls in his defense. It also has to cause Wes Clark to think hard. Dean can bury him in ads and cut off his money. In political terms, he's got the high ground. Joe Lieberman tried to turn Dean into the issue and it was a body blow to his campaign. Al From tried to scare people away, and it backfired on the DLC. Dean's money has pushed all the candidates to attack Bush harder and harder.
Political pros know that money tells the story. Dean's fundraising has been phenomenal.
The physician-turned-politician raised nearly $1 million this past weekend, as thousands of people flocked to rallies in Falls Church and several other cities around the country. If Dean tops $10 million in contributions, which his rivals expect him to do easily, he would become the second Democrat to hit that mark in the year before a presidential election. President Bill Clinton did it in 1995, when he was running for reelection.
Which mean he's raised more money than any Democratic challenger ever and done it earlier.
"We're not going to raise that -- that's for sure," said Steve Elmendorf, a top Gephardt adviser. But, "at the end of the day, money isn't everything."
Jim Jordan, Kerry's campaign manager, said Dean's fundraising has been an "impressive" feat his candidate cannot match. "We won't hit $10 million this quarter, and we don't need to."
The reason, Jordan said: Democratic candidates can spend only $45 million in the primaries, including the federal matching funds, unless they operate outside the traditional campaign finance system
Uh Jim, bullshit. You would kill to have Dean's money and the resources it brings. Any campaign would. Then he lays this whopper on:
Jordan said voters would be "distressed" if Dean broke his earlier pledge to abide by the spending limits for "purely political reasons." But most Democrats do not think Dean would pay a political price for doing what Bush is doing: seeking to raise as much money as he can. Trippi said the decision will not be made anytime soon.
Well, the next quarter will show if they can pull it off. But the reason Dean is doing well is simple: he opposed the war. If the war had gone well, Kerry or Gephardt might have had a chance. But Dean's money advantage is a very big deal as well. Wes Clark has to know he'll never raise that kind of cash in the time left.
What does that money do? It alters the debate. Lieberman and From tried to make Dean the issue. The base, not even Dean supporters, but the base of the party turned on them like wolverines. Because Dean is setting the agenda. He's running against George Bush. If you run against Howard Dean, people want to know why. Which is a pretty intense handicap to deal with. Dean is creating a simple litmus test: how hard will you run against Bush. It's crippled Lieberman and Edwards already. It's hindered Kerry and Gephardt.
Dean's money comes in cheaply and can be spent taunting the ever tempermental Bush.
One message which should be drawn from Dean's summer fundraising is that he's being rewarded for opposing Bush. By fighting Bush's policies and attacking democratic passivity, he's not only cutting himself away from the pack, he's getting records amounts of cash.
posted by Steve @ 6:10:00 PM