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I’m running for president — give me $100 million, please

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If you’d like to dip your toe into the 2008 presidential sweepstakes, better have $100 million in your pocket.

That’s what The New York Times estimates is necessary — even before the first primary vote is cast (see editorial, March 23, TS req’d).

Recall that President Bush and Sen. Kerry both raised a record $250 million each for the 2004 race — while declining to take public campaign financing. That’s because spending limits would be attached. Remember that $1 checkoff on your federal tax return? Yes, that money was supposed to fund such races and cap campaign spending.

If you think that the next round of presidential aspirants plan to take public money with its spending cap, think again. If candidates want to be taken seriously, they have to be seen as having solid financing. And public financing of presidential campaigns is no longer a meaningful option. That’s because wags are predicting it’ll take $400 million to become the next president, not counting soft money, PACs and interest-group spending. That’s likely to bring the total to perhaps twice that high.

That means those dipping-the-toe candidates need to be seen with professional money men and women, people who can pick up the phone and raise $100,000 in a five-minute call.

Those people are called “bundlers.” For example, one such “bundler” is Miami real-estate developer Chris Korge. He “bundled” more than $7 million in checks from friends and associates for Sen. Kerry’s campaign (Times story, March 12, TS req’d).

Remember the Bush Rangers (raised $200,000) and Pioneers (raised $100,000)? Both parties have big money attached to specific interests.

Howard Dean’s 2004 success in online fundraising wouldn’t begin to match the money needed for the 2008 presidential beauty contests. Serious, serious money will be needed.

Imagine a man or woman pure of heart and honest of intent deciding to enter the 2008 presidential sweepstakes. How long will that man or woman last before he or she becomes a glad-handing frequent flyer taking money from any special-interest group with deep pockets and an even deeper agenda?

Imagine our two-party system raising a billion dollars or more (mostly from special interests) to elect the next president. Then imagine the new prez claiming to represent all the people.

The 2008 election is unlikely to bring us any closer to a government not laden with special-interest money and the outrageous reciprocity that often accompanies it.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 3, 2006 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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