Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bayh on fundraising...

Tuition hikes across the state might be a problem...

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is backing Barack Obama in his bid for the presidency.

Senator Evan Bayh, a former candidate for president, spoke recently about what it takes to run a campaign, especially the behind-the-scenes fundraising.
People who want to run for president have to resign themselves to spending up to 90 percent of their time raising money, said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind. He said the daily routine of begging for cash starts with early morning breakfasts with possible donors and ends late at night with calls to the West Coast.

In an interview on NPR this week, Bayh talked about his decision to drop out of the Democratic competition late last year, just two weeks after establishing a presidential exploratory committee.

He also said the trend of scheduling primaries early in a presidential election year – especially primaries in states with large populations – will lead to the de facto selection of a nominee before most people in most states have met the candidates.

Bayh told NPR that the struggle to raise enough money – the figure for the 2008 race has been estimated at $100 million per candidate – wasn’t what caused him to pull the plug on his campaign. But he described a fundraising process that’s grueling and relentless.

“I am not exaggerating to say that for a non-celebrity candidate, 80 to 90 percent of your time revolves around the fundraising aspect, which I think is lamentable, but it’s a fact of life,” he said. “And if you don’t get to that critical mass of resources where you’re taken seriously as a candidate, then you just kind of wither on the vine. You never, you just don’t ever really get in the contest.”

Bayh said candidates’ fundraising prowess is especially important as more states schedule primaries early in the year. He said that takes the focus off of meeting people – actual voters – and puts it on wooing people with deep pockets. He said front-loading the primaries with states that have large populations also leads to primaries in “one or two early states and then a national election. So it makes it even harder for that romantic model where sort of the Mr. Smith who wants to go to Washington can get out there in the living rooms and the coffee shops and emerge and make that happen, as we’re brought to believe. The vast sums of money and the contributors make that harder than ever to do.”

Bayh said he’s concerned that the front-loaded primary schedule – by Valentine’s Day next year, 16 states will have conducted primaries or caucuses – will overemphasize candidates who have mountains of cash or who are already well known. He didn’t mention Sens. Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama by name, but they are considered the Democrats’ celebrity candidates.
As we get into the next half month, you might notice a lack of blogging. That's because midterms will be getting underway in the next few weeks. Factor in Spring Training and March Madness and you'll understand why.

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