Bush has raised whopping $36.2 million
June 30, 1999
Web posted at: 5:39 p.m. EDT (2139 GMT)
LOS ANGELES (AllPolitics, June 30) -- GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush's campaign announced Wednesday he had raised an unprecedented $36.2 million so far for his campaign, a record sum that dwarfs the money raised by his Republican opponents.
Bush, in California on a fund-raising and campaign swing, said he was "humbled" and "gratified" by the staggering demonstration of financial support. The sum is nine times greater than the second-most money raised by a GOP candidate. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who gave a speech Wednesday strongly criticizing the campaign finance system, has raised about $4 million and the other Republican candidates trail far behind.
Bush's fund-raising is political history, placing him far ahead of any other candidate ever at this point in a presidential campaign. It also increases the likelihood that he will forego federal matching funds, which then tie candidates to state by state spending limits.
One other GOP candidate, businessman Steve Forbes, can spend unlimited sums of his personal fortune on his campaign, thereby getting around the state spending limits. Bush said he would make the decision on matching funds some time in July.
June 30 is the last day of the second 1999 fund-raising quarter. Candidates have until July 15 to file a statement with the Federal Election Commission detailing money raised, cash on hand, and the names of individual donors who have contributed $200 or more in the last quarter.
On the Democratic side, Vice President Gore is expected to report more than $18 million in total contributions; former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley will report about $11.5 million.
The Bush juggernaut is leaving other GOP candidates gasping for breath.
"The race is over unless Bush not only stumbles but collapses," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg tells CNN. "He has such a huge bankroll, he starts out with such terrific poll numbers, he has demonstrated such significant campaign appeal that it's hard to imagine this is a race."
While Bush amasses an unprecedented funds, some of the other candidates are swimming in red ink -- candidates Dan Quayle, Lamar Alexander and Gary Bauer are all expected to report debts as large or larger than the money they have in the bank.
John McCain, Elizabeth Dole and John Kasich are still in the black, but Forbes now looks to be the only contender who can match Bush dollar for dollar.
"The Forbes factor is a big factor and it's something the [Bush] campaign team in Austin must to keep their eye on. He spent $40 million last time. Yes, he's raising some money this time for the first time but he's going to spend what it takes," said Scott Reed, campaign manager for the 1996 Bob Dole campaign.
For the underfunded, attention and resources now turn to Ames, Iowa, where the traditional Iowa Republican straw poll will be held in August.
Lamar Alexander, for one, will spend 24 of the next 45 days in Iowa. Like some of the others, Alexander simply doesn't have the resources to look much beyond that point.
Meanwhile, Bill Bradley's $11.5 million is enough to let him challenge Gore for the Democratic nomination in Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond.
Rothenberg said: "You have the bizarre situation now of the Republican race looking like it could end before the Democratic contest, and the Democratic contest includes the sitting vice president of the United States. I don't think anyone would have imagined that a year ago."
The Forbes campaign says Bush's big fund-raising windfall proves the Texas governor has "sold his soul to the Washington lobbyists." In a written statement, Forbes called on Bush to return all money from special interests and political action committees."
The largest contribution an individual can make to a candidate under law is $1,000.
CNN's Candy Crowley and Jonathan Karl contributed to this report.