By ALEXANDER BURNS | 1/26/11 12:34 PM EST Updated: 1/26/11 5:06 PM EST
The Republican nominee for president in 2012 will have to raise at least half a billion dollars to compete with President Barack Obama’s fundraising machine, one former chairman of the Federal Election Commission writes in a new book.
In “Pendulum Swing,” an analysis of the 2010 midterm elections published by the University of Virginia Center for Politics, former FEC chief Michael Toner writes that election watchers “haven’t yet fully focused on Obama’s 2012 fundraising advantage.”
“Without credible primary opponents, as is likely, Obama will likely be able to roll over hundreds of millions of dollars of excess primary funds directly into his general election campaign,” Toner writes. “Obama in 2008 was forced to burn through more than $400 million of his $750 million campaign war chest just to defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.”
Toner, who was chief counsel of the Republican National Committee and a legal adviser to Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign, says the GOP’s most serious hopefuls will have to opt out of public campaign financing if they hope to keep pace with the president.
“Given President Obama’s decision in 2008 to turn down public funds not only for the primaries but for the general election as well — and the near certainty that Obama will do so again in 2012 — all of the top-tier Republican candidates will likely have to do so as well,” Toner argues.
He sets the 2012 fundraising bar at $500 million: “It will be very difficult for any Republican to compete with Obama without raising a minimum of a half billion dollars.”
Toner’s prediction comes as Republicans on Capitol Hill are seeking to eliminate the public financing system entirely, calling it unnecessary.
Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, who sponsored the legislation, pointed to Obama’s successful public-money-free campaign as a reason to eliminate the program.
“The idea that Americans need this program in order to support candidates is absurd,” Cole said in a statement. His bill is expected to get a vote in the House on Wednesday.
Government funding of elections comes from citizens who choose to send $3 from their federal taxes into the public-financing system. Candidates who choose to participate in the system must abide by stricter spending limits than candidates who do not.
The White House opposes Cole’s legislation and said in a statement Tuesday that it would “expand the power of corporations and special interests in the nation’s elections.”
“Pendulum Swing,” which was released Tuesday, was edited by University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato and includes chapters from dozens of other contributors.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/48231.html#ixzz1CBqdgteJ
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