- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 9, 1999

Republican presidential front-runner George W. Bush has virtually suspended fund raising, in part because of criticism from other candidates of his own party for his record-setting pace.
The Texas governor has already raised $63.2 million, and is expected to end the year having collected about $68 million more than twice the previous pre-primary record of $32 million.
“He has tapped all the lobbyists and special interests he can,” Bill Dal Col, campaign manager for Bush rival Steve Forbes, said yesterday. “There are no more oil wells for him to drill, no more [Republican high-dollar donors] and their social friends to hit up.”
Nearly all the presidential hopefuls have criticized Mr. Bush’s fund-raising success. Sen. John McCain, Mr. Bush’s closest rival, has made campaign-finance reform his top issue.
Some Republicans say the reason for the shift is to move away from glitzy, high-dollar fund-raising events. They noted the Bush campaign was taking too much criticism for having raised record sums from the campaign’s inception in June.
“[Mr. Bush] was beginning to take a fair amount of ridicule from his Republicans competitors for his mammoth fund raising,” said Tom Slade, former Florida Republican party chairman. “Obviously, he doesn’t need any more money to cruise comfortably through the primary process and has a unique ability of being able to restock money before the general election.”
Mr. Slade said that, under the circumstance, he “wouldn’t be surprised to see him suspend fund raising but not discontinue it completely.”
Mr. Bush has already said he will forgo federal matching funds for the primaries, which leaves him unencumbered by regulations that would limit how much he spends. He will, however, accept federal money for the fall campaign if he wins the nomination, said Karl Rove, a Bush campaign strategist.
Bush campaign-finance chairman Don Evans, however, said the decision to scale back fund raising had nothing to do with criticism from Mr. Bush’s presidential rivals. Instead, Mr. Bush will simply concentrate on winning the nomination.
“The campaign is focused on campaigning in the early caucus and primary states,” said Mr. Evans, a Midland, Texas, oilman and longtime friend of Mr. Bush. “That’s where the candidate will be spending his time.”
Mr. Evans also said he could not confirm whether Dave Thomas, founder of the Wendy’s fast-food chain, had offered to do a major fund-raiser in Florida for the Texas governor but was told by the campaign it was not encouraging any more major fund-raisers for now.
“Lots of fine people offer to do fund-raisers for the governor every day,” Mr. Evans said. “We’ve had 167,000 people contribute money to this campaign so far, a record.
“But now is the time for [Mr. Bush] to focus his time on going to the people of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan, Florida,” and other states.
Those states and others are scheduled to have presidential nominating caucuses and primaries between January and March, when a Republican candidate is expected to have accumulated enough delegates to capture the nomination.
Mr. Evans said he did not “want to give the false impression that we are not going to have any more fund raising, period. We have one more fund-raiser planned between now and the end of the year. And when I look at the schedule between January and February for fund raising, it looks very, very light.”
“Have we raised a high percentage of the funds for maintaining a competitive position in the primary? Yes,” he said. “Have we raised all the funds we’ll need? No. Will the pace slow down in coming months. Yes. Will it come to stop? No.”
The nominees elected by delegates at the Republican and Democratic conventions next August will get close to $68 million according to a formula based on the Consumer Price Index from the federal government the day after their nominations.
The two major party candidates will also be entitled to receive between $13 million and $14 million from the Republican and Democratic national committees, respectively. That total of about $83 million each is all they will be permitted to spend between August and the general election in November if they accept federal financing.
Mr. Bush, with his unprecedented ability to raise money, could choose not to accept federal financing, but he would have to raise about $83 million net after deducting for the cost of fund raising on his own in three months. The Bush campaign is not inclined to go that ambitious route, at least for now.
Mr. Bush had raised $56 million in the first nine months of this year and had less than $37 million left in cash on hand, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. The campaign had spent about $19 million through the third quarter, from July through September.

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