The Associated Press reported that "[Sen. John] McCain and [Sen. Barack] Obama have bickered over their prior commitment over a general election spending cap should they emerge as their respective party's nominee," without noting that McCain obtained a loan for his campaign in November 2007 that could have required him to stay in the race, regardless of the viability of his campaign, in order to apply for matching funds to pay back the loan.
In a March 10 Associated Press article discussing Sen. John McCain's "nationwide fundraising drive aimed at restocking his campaign kitty," staff writer Glen Johnson reported that "McCain and [Sen. Barack] Obama have bickered over their prior commitment over a general election spending cap should they emerge as their respective party's nominee." But Johnson did not note that McCain may not be able to opt out of the public financing system for the primary campaign after obtaining a loan for his campaign in November 2007, as the AP has previously reported. Under the loan agreement, McCain could have been required to stay in the race, regardless of the viability of his campaign, in order to apply for matching funds to pay back the loan.
If McCain is unable to opt out of the public financing system, he would be bound by federal spending caps until the Republican National Convention in September; a March 10 Washington Post editorial noted that "[t]he primary spending limit is about $57 million; Mr. McCain had reported spending $50 million by the end of January."
As the AP reported on February 21: "The government's top campaign finance regulator says John McCain can't drop out of the primary election's public financing system until he answers questions about a loan he obtained to kickstart his once faltering presidential campaign. Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason, in a letter to McCain this week, said the all-but-certain Republican nominee needs to assure the commission that he did not use the promise of public money to help secure a $4 million line of credit he obtained in November." A February 25 AP article subsequently reported: "McCain's loan, from Fidelity & Trust Bank, has become a central issue in the Arizona senator's attempt to bypass the public financing system and the strict spending caps that come with it."
On February 25, the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the FEC against the McCain campaign, alleging that "in order to obtain the Commission's certification of matching funds, Senator McCain signed a binding agreement with the Commission to accept a spending limit and the other conditions of receiving those funds," and that McCain's campaign has "already violated a key condition for being let out of the matching funds program: he has pledged matching funds as collateral for a loan to his campaign."
The AP article, headlined "Across country, McCain seeks to cash in on nomination":
The Arizona senator, less than a week removed from having secured enough delegates to become his party's presidential standard-bearer, sets out on a nationwide fundraising drive aimed at restocking his campaign kitty.
Starting Monday in St. Louis, and continuing Tuesday in New York, Wednesday in Boston and other unannounced cities through Friday, McCain will reach out to the GOP faithful. His aim is the funding necessary to help him match up against the record-shattering totals posted by Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
They continue to battle for their party's nomination, fueled by unprecedented monthly and even daily fundraising sums.
"We can see the great job that our opponents have done in fundraising. We've got a lot of work to do," McCain said.
An invitation to McCain's event Wednesday night at the Taj Boston hotel is fairly typical: $2,300 donations the maximum allowable each primary and general election campaign are required for a private reception with McCain. A half-hour later, the tab drops to $1,000 per person for a more widely accessible general reception.
Among those slated to attend are the head of a major biotechnology company, Boston Scientific co-founder Peter Nicholas, as well as former acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, a longtime McCain backer, and former Gov. Paul Cellucci, who previously supported former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
There was conflicting word about whether former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who joined Giuliani in battling McCain for the Republican nomination, would attend the event.
The challenge confronting McCain is stark. During the current election cycle, Obama and Clinton have not only outraised him, but far exceed him in cash on hand.
Obama, a senator from Illinois, has raised $141 million, with $25 million cash on hand as of Jan. 31. Clinton, a senator from New York and former first lady, has raised $138 million and had $29 million cash on hand.
By contrast, McCain has raised $55 million and had $5.2 million cash on hand at the end of January.
McCain and Obama have bickered over their prior commitment over a general election spending cap should they emerge as their respective party's nominee, but that debate was rendered moot last week by Clinton's reemergence as a challenger to Obama following big-ticket wins in the Ohio and Texas primaries.
Obama and Clinton are expected to battle through April and possibly to their party's August convention, yet McCain must raise enough money to support his organization and remain in the public spotlight without benefit of a nomination contest.
One booster will be President Bush, who endorsed his fellow Republican last week and pledged to help McCain however he can, especially on the fundraising front.