A friend recently wrote me:
> I've been reading your "Dean Files" diaries-sounds like a great experience
> and a great bunch of people. A kind of work/party/bonding thing. If
> you've got a a second or few,I'd like your comments on this Email that
> a friend FWD' me recently. It might be bogus,I haven't checked. But the
> central point,that whichever candidate is nominated,he must be able to
> swing would-be Bush voters,makes a lot of bottom-line sense to me.
The letter is real: http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/index.php?messageDate=2004-01-14
I agree with a lot of what he says, but not all.
I have a lot of respect for Clark, but there is one big problem -- Money$$$
Unlike Dean, Kerry and Bush, Clark has agreed to abide by the FEC spending limits for the primaries. This could be a death knell to an otherwise winning campaign.
Look at the calendar: The bulk of the delegates to choose the nominee will be chosen by early March, but the convention will not take place until July 26th. By accepting Federal matching funds, Clark has limited himself to a total of $45 million up to the convention (and he is spending at a brisk rate). Should he win (which he very well could) he will likely find himself muted by spending limits during this time.
There is a precedent for this: during the 2000 campaign, Vice President Al Gore was silenced for 32 days between the end of the primaries and the convention, while G.W. Bush just kept on spending, and slamming Gore.
This time around, Bush has set a target of $170 million, and many expect that he will raise closer to $200 million. We can expect that somewhere around 15 to 20% of this will be spent on expenses, but that still leaves a very large war chest. Combine this with the power of incumbancy -- Air Force One, combined "official"/campaign trips, the Rose Garden, etc -- and Bush has a huge advantage. If the Democratic nominee is bound by spending limits during the critical March - July time frame then we might as well throw in the towel.
Now, it gets even worse. The Republican party has pushed their convention pretty late this year - to late August/early September (so that they can politicize Sept. 11 in NYC, where the convention will be held). This means that Bush can spend primary funds (remember that $200 million??) right up until late August. Then, after the convention, they will accept the same spending caps that the Democratic nominee will have accepted for the general election campaign, but they will have five fewer weeks to spend it in.
The FEC projects that this year the general election grant will be $75 million. The Republican party will have from September 2 until November 2, two months, to spend that money. That translates to $37.5 million dollars per month, or about $10 million per week.
The Democrats will be spending that same $75 million over a three month period, or less than $6 million per week. Do you see why I am worried?
If the Democratic candidate enters the general election campaign having already been hobbled by spending limits in the March to July time frame, and then has a 35% disadvantage in weekly spending vs. the Republicans, then the campaign is over and we might as well anoint W for a second term right now.
I know that this is all a little dense, but I have been thinking about this for quite some time, and I think it is very important that more people think about it too. It means nothing to have a stirring and meaningful primary victory if you don't have the tools to fight in the general election, and more and more these days, those tools that matter are directly tied to money.