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March 30th, 2010

In November, Let the Presidential Fundraising Begin

moneyBy James Johnson

The 2012 Republican presidential selection process has already begun.

Not officially, of course. But for all practical purposes, the proverbial trains are leaving the station and are rolling down the tracks to stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida.

Although the national news media will not pay much attention to the 2012 race until after the midterm elections, those who are interested in taking a shot at the Oval Office are already busy at work.

Several of them will be announcing their presidential exploratory committees after November 2. Expect at least five or six to announce it before the new year.

“Why? What’s the rush?” Answer: money.

That’s how the presidential sweepstakes has evolved. Nowadays, to win the White House, a presidential candidate must have (1) professional credibility, (2) a reasonable amount of charisma, (3) a solid organization, (4) a resonating message, and (5) money (a LOT of it).

One of the ways he gets it is by making frequent stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. But even making those stops without raising a significant amount of money in the meantime is pointless.

Barak Obama raised $500 million in the 2008 election. John McCain “only” raised $190 million. In 2000, Texas Governor George W. Bush raised $200 million. Big money for a big office.

“But what about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee” you ask. “Didn’t he win the Iowa Caucuses?” Yes, he did. He won Iowa on a shoestring budget, having been outspent considerably by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

“But Romney didn’t win the nomination” you say. True. McCain did. Campaign cash is no guarantee that a candidate will win the nomination of his party, but NOT having it is a guarantee that you WON’T win it.

People get romantic about presidential politics. But the presidency is the one race in that affords the least amount of room for fantasy. A financially strapped candidate with high integrity, public office experience, and a compelling message can beat a schmuck with a campaign war chest in a race for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Congress, or for a Governors seat — but NOT the Presidency of the United States.

After November 2, start listening for which Republican candidates make announcements about forming presidential exploratory committees. And notice who does not. Those who do not by Valentines Day 2011 are not serious candidates for the White House.

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About the Author

James M. Johnson
James M. Johnson is the president of the Iowa Republican Assembly, which works to get constitutionally minded conservatives elected to leadership positions in the Republican Party, and to elective office on the local, state, and federal level. He has worked on over 50 political campaigns and holds an M.A. in public policy with a concentration in political communication.

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