Much of the discussion about John McCain’s money woes has focused on whether it will force him out of the race, but it is worth questioning whether the poor money management is a reflection of the fact that he has never served in an executive capacity. I’ve always had a lot of respect for McCain, and even though I disagree with him on some issues, he deserves admiration for his foresight and leadership on national security issues alone. But the biggest concern I have about McCain — bigger than his support of campaign finance reform — is his lack of executive experience, and I think it’s showing. During Monday’s conference call, campaign manager Terry Nelson said that the McCain campaign was preparing to raise more than $100 million this year, but now it has to shed staff, scale back its operations, and consider taking public financing to adjust to a new reality because they’re only left with $2 million in the bank. Compare that to his two main rivals, who do have executive experience.
Instead of putting the cart before the horse and spending money based on anticipated revenue, Rudy Giuliani has run his campaign on a shoestring, and finds himself sitting on $15 million. McCain supporters like to point out that Mitt Romney would only be left with $3 million had he not kicked in $9 million of his own money to achieve $12 million cash on hand. That’s a good point. However, going into the campaign, one of the advantages we always knew Romney had was the ability to dip into his own bank account. He managed his spending based on this reality.
All three Republicans have argued that restoring fiscal discipline and making the government run more efficiently would be one of their primary goals as president, so I think it’s fair to look at how they are managing their campaign bank accounts as part of the overall analysis of how they would run the country. I’m probably more sympathetic to McCain than a lot of my fellow conservatives, but thus far his money management skills leave something to be desired. Let’s see if he can turn things around.
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