Unless there are some major surprises, it appears former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee to challenge Barack Obama for the presidency.
The fight between GOP contenders has been fierce, so fierce many wonder whether the dirty laundry and charges and countercharges fired within the field have damaged the chances of the Republican candidate in the main event, the battle for the White House. Only time will tell.
However, there is one clear fact emerging from the GOP nomination battle: The availability of money is almost as important and, in some cases, maybe more important than the strength and ability of an individual candidate.
At various times during the months-long GOP race, one candidate or another seemed to be picking up substantial support only to have Romney launch powerful advertising campaigns to knock down or weaken support for a Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, etc.
Romney’s campaign fund has trumped the best efforts of all those trying to win the party’s nomination. Granted, Romney is an attractive and able candidate, but his powerful, targeted advertising messages have gotten results and stunted the effort of any contenders who seemed to be climbing in the polls.
Earlier this week, news stories told of the massive fundraising efforts of President Obama. So far, Obama has held at least 191 formal fundraisers, the most of any previous presidential candidate.
Early on, Obama supporters talked about a $1 billion campaign fund and, even though he already has broken previous fundraising totals, he still has 10 months left in his first term. By comparison, George W. Bush had 173 fundraisers during his entire first term in office, followed by Bill Clinton with 96, George H.W. Bush with 109, Ronald Reagan with 75 and Jimmy Carter with 49.
As mean and tough as the Republican primary battle has been, the general election between the GOP nominee and Obama is expected to be even more intense. It’s obvious Obama and his supporters are going all-out to raise record sums for his re-election campaign. He already has headlined 35 events in Washington, 32 in California and 30 in New York, and he has seven more months to add millions of dollars to his war chest.
Romney, or whoever ends up winning the GOP nomination, is going to use every means to raise money, but, chances are, his totals will pale in comparison to what Obama will have at his disposal.
Also, Obama has a huge information bank carried over from his first campaign with the names and addresses of millions who have pledged to help in his re-election effort.
Another big, and extremely dangerous, element is the political action committees, which will be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in support of either Obama or his challenger. Unfortunately, the public has no way of knowing who is putting the money into these PACs and what favors or policies those donors expect from the candidate if he wins the big prize, the White House. How does the average voter know who is trying to buy influence, whether it is an individual with millions of dollars or organized labor?
The upcoming presidential election is not going to be a pretty picture. The stakes are enormous with Obama committed to making “fundamental changes” in this country and the Republican candidate calling for a smaller government involvement and less control of the lives of Americans and the need to reduce the national debt.
What will count the most in the election: the candidate himself and what he believes or which candidate has the biggest checkbook with which to tell his story? And where do the media enter the picture in how they deliver the message of each candidate?