Let Us Weep & Make Sad Sounds : 4 Reasons Why Mitt’s Whimpering About Fundraising Is Just More Humbug

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“This is a bit of an unusual thing in that we’ve got the first presidential candidate in history – excuse me, since Watergate – to say he was not going to follow the federal spending limits was President Obama, in his last campaign, he’s doing it this time, so to be competitive it means more fund raising than I think I would like. I’d far rather be spending my time out in the swing states campaigning door-to-door if necessary, at rallies, at various meetings, but fundraising is a part of politics when your opponent decides not to live by the federal spending limits.”

Mitt Romney, whimpering at reporters on campaign airplane
September 23, 2012

This one has Karl Rove written all over it, taking dictation from the long gone the “Boogie Man” Lee Atwater.  It’s difficult to imagine a more dishonestly beclouded statement than Romney delivered to reporters yesterday as he flew above the real puffy white clouds below his campaign jet, fondly called “Hair Force One.”

Here’s four things wrong about his whining whine:

(1) Romney’s craven whining comes up now for a very good reason: his campaign’s running through its money, and in August, took a $20 million cash flow loan. The big money’s getting smaller, at least within his own campaign’s books. PAC money, well, that’s another thing, yet the PACs may, any day now, decide to abandon Mitt and start spending more elsewhere, like Senate races.

(2) About 2008:  Yes, Obama did opt out of the public financing system, but to not do so would have hamstrung him in the battle against swift boat organizations (527’s), the groups that ruined John Kerry’s reputation in 2004, and, moreover, were not limited in their expenditures. So, the major reason candidate Obama made his decision was the 2004 experience.

Also, the RNC in 2008 had a 10 to 1 cash advantage over the DNC. So, McCain could well afford to accept the $84.1 million from that year’s Presidential Election Campaign Fund, and call it a day. He and the RNC believed they could out-fundraise Obama via 527s and the RNC’s cash horde. In the end, of course, the grassroots internet financing of the Obama campaign won the day.

Finally,  McCain opted in to the separate public financing scheme available for the party primaries, that is, until Super Tuesday when he wrapped up the nomination at which moment he, well, opted out, suddenly dissatisfied with the spending limits. Moreover, during the primaries, in November 2007, when he’d run out of money, he took out two loans worth two million dollars, using as collateral the public funding money he was to receive in subsequent months. The FEC was not amused, and indicated it didn’t think it kosher. The FEC, however, couldn’t hold a commission meeting about this issue because it lacked a quorum, which quorum it lacked because GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell had blocked the votes to fill three of the six FEC seats, thus making it nearly impossible for the FEC to enforce the election laws. Neat, eh?

(3)  2012: The same applies as above, but, since 2010’s Citizen’s United ruling, for different reasons. PAC’s, which can accept unlimited “independent expenditure” contributions from corporate Treasuries and from individuals like Sheldon Adelson. Of course Romney would have accepted the federal spending limits that would have come with the public funds (this year, $91.2 million). He and his cadre knew at the time – or thought they knew – that the basically unregulated Romney-friendly PACs would raise massive amounts of money, which, indeed, they did. So, again Obama made a tactical and wise decision to not put himself and his party at a funding disadvantage, and opted out again of the public funding option.

(4)  As it has turned out, however, Romney, not Obama, is now in financial trouble. PACs and the RNC may be flush, but they don’t necessarily want to invest further in what looks more and more like a losing candidate. If Romney doesn’t see a substantial swing state bump after the first debate, they’ll be sorely tempted to put their money into Senate and House and governors races rather than throw it away on Romney. Ad the RNC will follow suit.

In any event, it’s a startling irony: the candidate of money, by money, and for money is now seen to be griping about Obama’s big money. Hoist on your own petard, Mitt! Huzzah!

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Michael Matheron

From Presidents Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush, I was a senior legislative research and policy staff of the nonpartisan Library of Congress Congressional Research Service (CRS). I'm partisan here, an "aggressive progressive." I'm a contributor to The Fold and Nation of Change. Welcome to They Will Say ANYTHING! Come back often! . . . . . Michael Matheron, contact me at mjmmoose@gmail.com

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