Money determines the fate of Bush, Dole
By Jonathan Karl/CNN
October 21, 1999
Web posted at: 6:42 p.m. EDT (2242 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The reason Elizabeth Dole dropped out of the Republican presidential race while Texas Gov. George W. Bush sits at the front of the field boils down to one thing: money.
Dole's fund raising was so anemic that the day-to-day costs of running a campaign threatened to bankrupt her even before she ran her first television advertisement.
"Inadequate funding limits the number of staff at headquarters and in key states. It restricts your ability to communicate with voters. It places a ceiling on travel and travel staff. Over time, it becomes nearly impossible to sustain an effective campaign," Dole said Wednesday when she announced she was dropping out.
Even with a staff much smaller than her more well-funded rivals, Dole was spending twice as much as she was raising. That left her campaign with a net total of less than a half-a-million dollars in the bank, compared with more than $37 million for Bush.
"My schedule through early December would have taken me to a total of 108 fund-raising events across America. Even then, these rivals would enjoy a 75 or 80-to-1 cash advantage. Perhaps I could handle 2-to-1, or even ten-to-one, but not 80-to-one," she said.
Asked Thursday if he was disturbed that this campaign was so money-driven, Bush said his prodigious fund-raising was an indication that a lot of people want to see him win the GOP nomination.
"I look at the fact that I've got over 138,000 people that have contributed to my campaign as a positive reinforcement of my message and of people's desire to see me as the nominee of the Republican Party," he said.
In contrast, Bush's fund-raising has enabled him to spend money earlier, and more lavishly, than any presidential campaign in history.
An analysis of Bush's spending so far this year shows his biggest ticket item is fund-raising -- the campaign has spent nearly $10 million raising money, including $6.5 million on direct mail.
With 152 paid staffers, Bush's campaign is the largest in the 2000 field. He's spent nearly $7 million on overhead, including salaries, travel costs and rent.
Bush's consultants get a piece of the pie as well. Mark McKinnon, who will produce Bush's television commercials, has already been paid $425,259. Top advisor Karl Rove has received $268,875.
But Bush has spent relatively little on polling. Pollster Fred Steeper has been paid $75,807, a fraction of what other candidates have paid their pollsters.
Dole faced fund-raising troubles from the start, and even in the wake of her promising third-place finish in the Iowa straw poll in August, her money problems only worsened. Through the second quarter, which ended in June, she had raised a relatively strong $2.7 million, but she raised less than half that amount during the third quarter, which ended September 30.
The fund-raising problems came as a surprise to Dole's advisers, who had once thought she would raise so much money that she wouldn't need federal matching funds.
"We were talking about whether we would accept matching funds. There was a period of time where the Elizabeth Dole campaign thought that we would be able to raise so much money, that could be a question we faced," said former Dole communications advisor Ari Fleischer.
Dole's top aides said the key reason for her fund-raising woes was that Dole and Bush were seeking money from the same base, and those people overwhelmingly decided to support Bush
Bush has also pre-paid for $600,000 worth of airtime on New Hampshire television station WMUR -- a level of spending that cannot be matched by candidates who are subject to spending limits because they have accepted federal matching funds.
But Steve Forbes, the only other candidate to forgo matching funds, has already spent $5.2 million on radio and TV ads.
Bush is financing his spending spree with help from employees of the Dallas-based law & lobbying firm Vinson and Elkins, who donated nearly $192.350, more than any other company.
Next are employees of the bank and credit card company MBNA, who gave $178,400. Federal employees gave $161,915. The accounting firms Andersen Worldwide and Ernst & Young gave Bush $156,650 and $134,800, respectively.
Bush's fund-raising success has made it so that only Forbes can compete with him. In fact, Forbes, who is financing his campaign mostly with personal funds, has already spent dollar-for-dollar almost exactly as much as Bush.