Sen. John McCain has so much spare cash on hand — he collected a record $27 million in July — that the Republican candidate plans to run campaign ads during the networks’ coverage of the Democratic National Convention later this month.
Because Mr. McCain has agreed to accept $84 million in public financing for the general election, the presumptive presidential nominee has only until Sept. 4, when he accepts his party’s nomination, to spend the more than $21 million he has on hand.
“We continue to have record months of fundraising. This is now the fifth month in a row that we have exceeded the month before,” said McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. The candidate’s advertising budget for August is expected to exceed $20 million, he said, and, by the Republican convention, Mr. McCain is on track to spend some $60 million on TV advertising during the whole primary campaign.
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Political strategists said airing ads during an opponent’s convention makes sense.
“McCain now has enough financial resources to break tradition and advertise during the opposition’s convention week,” said Republican strategist Scott Reed, who was campaign manager for former Sen. Bob Dole in his 1996 presidential run.
“The McCain camp is building a case about Obama’s ability to lead and needs to keep the pressure on his weakness with voters.”
Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh said the McCain campaign’s strategy illustrates just how much presidential campaigns have changed. In past contests, one candidate went quiet while the other had his convention, and the strategist said she can’t remember a candidate ever airing ads during the other’s party convention.
“The ads are less an effort to get votes than make a point and get it covered by the national media while Obama has the attention of the nation,” she said. “No doubt the Obama campaign will do the same now.”
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign was staying mum on whether it would follow suit during the Republican convention.
“We don’t have a comment,” spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee (RNC), which can spend money right up until Election Day, pulled in $26 million in July and now has $75 million on hand.
And despite media reports to the contrary, President Bush continues to be a fundraising juggernaut, having brought in $70 million for the RNC already this year and expected to bring in tens of millions more before Nov. 4. “When it comes to requests for the president to fundraise for Republican candidates, supply can’t keep up with demand,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Friday.