Mitt Romney might go down in history as the presidential candidate who spent more of his personal income than any other in his pursuit to win the White House. It is estimated that he has already used $35 million of his roughly $250 million personal fortune. And if Mitt makes the cut for the Republican nomination, over the next 10 months he will surely surpass Ross Perot’s $60 million infusion into his own 1992 candidacy.
To me, such excessive self-financing of one’s own campaign is not only a competitive injustice that rivals the use of steroids by athletes but a fundamental flaw in the general race for the presidency, which requires better campaign financial reform.
Mitt’s personal payments for the presidency
Last Wednesday Romney conveyed that “his campaign was not trying to purchase television advertisement” on Super Tuesday, when 20-plus states hold simultaneous nominating contests. Then he flip-flopped (again) the very next day, telling reporters, “I have authorized a seven-figure ? I won’t give you the exact number ? but seven-figure advertising buy for our campaign.”
As one news agency put it, “One of Romney’s greatest campaign strengths has been his deep pockets. A wealthy former businessman who has largely financed his own campaign ?” The BBC described that Mitt “may be the only Republican candidate who can afford to buy advertising in major media markets ahead of Tuesday’s poll.”
A couple months ago, he was spending $85,000 daily on presidential commercials. Over these past few days he spent millions more. The only concession for Mitt is that he is possibly being outspent in this particular inning by his Democrat opponents. But, then again, their money is largely donated by others, not funded by themselves.
McCain borrows his way to the White House
On the other hand, John McCain finished 2007 with $3 million in campaign monies and a $4.5 million debt, according to Federal Election Commission records. We just learned he was so strapped for cash at the end of last quarter that he had to take out a special life insurance policy as a guarantee for payback of his debt. McCain’s financial consultant said, “I can’t imagine any other campaign doing what he did. We were down to nobody. To nothing.”
The campaign question is: Does Mitt’s personal financing or McCain’s personal debt reflect the type of fiscal leadership we want in the White House? One avenue demonstrates that the White House can be bought, and the other mirrors a same-old political approach to getting things done ?borrowing.
The only fiscally wise candidate
As I echoed in last week’s column, GOP candidate and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee is the only presidential hopeful who is not spending recklessly or rashly.
Mike began learning good stewardship when he was a boy in Hope, Ark., watching his fireman father working hard with two jobs to provide a better life for he and his sister. Mike grew up poor, not privileged. He worked his way through college, and all the way to becoming lieutenant governor and then governor of Arkansas. Even today as a presidential hopeful, he continues to lead a grass-roots movement of middle America, spending only what they give him for his campaign.
With a track record of 12 balanced budgets and a surplus of $844 million when he left his gubernatorial service, his financial leadership is established, impeccable and able to lead our country into a prosperous and peaceful future. His stewardship abilities and experience clearly separates him from the rest of the pack, Republican or Democrat. That’s why I call him “the peoples’ president.” And with our country being trillions of dollars in debt and our economy sluggish at best, that’s also why he’s my choice for president.
The next step in campaign financial reform
Whatever the outcome of the presidential race, I’m admonishing citizens everywhere to write their representatives today, beseeching them to require immediate and full disclosure of all personal and online campaign donations, as well as more equity between candidates’ and supporters’ contributions to campaigns. It is simply unfair to allow a wealthy man like Mitt Romney to “loan” his own campaign $35 million dollars, when a candidate like Mike Huckabee doesn’t possess a personal fortune and can only receive $2,300 maximum from people like you and me.
Past campaign financial reform like McCain-Feingold restricts our First Amendment rights among other detriments, and political action committees can weaken partisan politics. Trade unions and corporations might be prohibited from giving directly to a candidate’s campaign, but soft money still sifts through the system. Equally broken, however, is campaign protocol in which a rich man can possibly pay his own way into the White House.
Where would Romney be right now if he was running on a financially level playing field with Mike Huckabee? Where would Mike be if he had the same financial empire as Mitt? If Mike beat him in Iowa despite Mitt’s 10-1 spending against him, Mike would certainly be winning if he could do the same in other states. If Mike is among the last four GOP candidates standing now (third in delegate count), just think what his placement would be with a surplus of funds to battle on the airways like McCain and Romney are.
As the Washington Post rightly noted, “Romney’s money is his mojo: If he’s not spending, he probably isn’t winning.”
Watch me recently on
“Hannity and Colmes,” where I further discussed my thoughts about Mitt, Huckabee and campaign financial reform.
The gamble of Mitt’s life
The truth is, for Mitt, that his presidential run is the biggest investment gamble of his life.
And with the White House appraising at roughly $106 million, he’s betting his largest wager on owning the oval office.
As one appraiser calculated, “To qualify for a jumbo 30-year, fixed-rate loan at 7.5 percent, and assuming 10 percent down, the proud new owners of the 132-room house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would need to pull down an annual salary of at least $18 million.”
Of course that’s pocket change for Mitt.
Then again, in an economic housing slump and with a possible recession on the horizon, Romney just might be able to take advantage of its owners (us) and maneuver them into a buyer’s market steal.
The question is: will we let him?
(Chuck’s column now runs in syndication through Creators Syndicate. Subscriptions can be obtained by contacting Creators Syndicate. To check out some of his non-political articles, see Chuck’s WND archives.)