McCain’s Money Woes

David Kirkpatrick and Michael Cooper report that John McCain’s “presidential campaign may be paying the price for a career of positions seemingly calculated to alienate constituencies that according to Washington custom should be prime sources of campaign cash.”

Like, um, Republicans?

No, they argue. It’s not so much that he has alienated every core constituency of his own party — social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and libertarian conservatives — by gleefully thumbing his nose at them for years. Rather, McCain has angered the Money Gods.

A ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee like Senator John McCain could normally bank on a bonanza of campaign contributions from the defense industry, especially if he was under pressure to raise money fast. But as Mr. McCain races to play catch-up with his Republican presidential primary rivals before the end of the second quarter, he is only reminding military companies and lobbyists why they have never liked him. “Defense contractors are more concerned with winning the next contract than performing on the current one,” he charged at a recent campaign stop.

At a critical moment for him, his presidential campaign may be paying the price for a career of positions seemingly calculated to alienate constituencies that according to Washington custom should be prime sources of campaign cash. Mr. McCain’s campaign filings show just $61,000 from the military industry in the first quarter — less than half as much as the long-shot campaign of Democratic Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The twist is lost on no one: a candidate who has spent decades fighting to minimize the influence of money on politics is under extraordinary pressure to scare up tens of millions of dollars to prove he can jump-start his campaign. And after months of trying to make up with factions of the conservative coalition he has snubbed in the past, fund-raising has turned into another example of the balancing act he faces as he tries to appeal to the Republican establishment without giving up his aura as a straight-talking reformer.

Ironic, indeed. Even though McCain is slowly emerging as my least unfavorite among the 2008 field, I can’t say that I’m surprised that he’s having trouble attracting support from traditional Republican groups.

Still, his policy positions doesn’t explain why he’s attracting less money from defense contractors than Dodd. That’s a depressing sign that money flows for reasons other than compatibility of interests.

via Political Wire

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. McCain should be pleased he can shake down defense contractors for cash. To him money in politics is inherently corrupting.