Obama Surprises on Money
Clinton Surprises on Endorsements
By Jerome Grossman
Campaign contributions are important to political contests not only to pay expenses but also as indications of popular support and the ability to buy advertising to reach millions of voters in fifty states.
The recent financial reports of the presidential candidates indicated that some had exceeded expectations: particularly Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. While their totals will inspire their supporters and add a degree of credibility to their chances, money raised is not decisive in such contests. Political history is full of candidates who could raise the money but not the votes. Romney’s amazing fundraising is not matched by his weak standing in the public opinion polls, but indicates that he could become competitive.
Up to this point in the campaign, Obama has tended to rely on general themes including hope, religion, and bipartisanship. His success in fundraising will probably encourage him to stick with that approach instead of spelling out specific and detailed solutions to domestic and foreign problems.
More important in the 2008 primary elections will be the political situation in Iowa and New Hampshire. The results in those states could generate a wave of support for the winner in the free media that would sweep the primaries of the big states on February 5.
The model for such a scenario is the campaign for John Kerry in 2004. Beginning as the establishment candidate, he squandered his lead with poor performances and was far behind Howard Dean. At one point, Kerry was even behind Al Sharpton in his home state Massachusetts.
However, in the Iowa caucuses Kerry obtained the support of the Vilsack machine, although popular Gov. Tom Vilsack remained neutral, his very capable wife endorsed Kerry and motivated the troops.
Following the Kerry victory in Iowa, he also came from behind in New Hampshire with the aid of William Shaheen, husband of the governor Jeanne Shaheen, who was also neutral.
With these two upset victories, Kerry became inevitable. The Free media enabled him to sweep most of the other primaries gaining him the party nomination.
This year, Hilary Rodham Clinton is the establishment candidate in the Democratic primaries, pressed by Barack Obama. Hardly noted by the media, Tom Vilsack and his wife have endorsed Clinton. Vilsack was a candidate for president, dropped out with political debts of almost $500,000 which Clinton says she will help to pay. Rumors have Vilsack on the Clinton ticket as Vice President.
On to New Hampshire, where Clinton has been endorsed by William Shaheen who has been appointed campaign co-chair in New Hampshire and the Clinton national committee.
Clinton has the support of most influential Democrats in these two small states. In Iowa, turnout for the presidential caucuses will be 130,000 or less; in New Hampshire a similar number. The Vilsacks and the Shaheens are known to all of them. While the media is focusing on the money raised. Clinton may have already won these key primaries by obtaining key endorsements on the ground. .