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Romney, Edwards and McCain facing money decisions ahead

Romney, Edwards and McCain facing money decisions ahead

Two multimillionaires in the U.S. presidential race _ two ways to spend their money. Republican Mitt Romney has pumped more than $17 million (euro11.57 million) of his own money into his race; Democrat John Edwards, by law, can tap his fortune for no more than $50,000 (euro34,032).
What a difference public financing makes.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who earned his fortune as a venture capitalist, has chosen to bypass the U.S. taxpayer-financed presidential campaign fund, a move that lets him use his wealth without limitation. If he has put more of his money in during the past three months, his campaign is not saying. The American public will not find out until Jan. 31, when Romney must submit campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission.
Edwards, a former trial lawyer, has been certified to get $8.8 million (euro5.99 million) in public funds, and he plans to collect. The step not only restricts his spending, it also prohibits him from dipping into his personal wealth. Meanwhile, his campaign is getting more than $2 million (euro1.36 million) in help from labor-backed independent groups.
Presidential candidates and their allies are spending money like never before, and some candidates head into the New Year with big decisions ahead _ to lend, to borrow, to accept millions in public matching funds.
Romney and Edwards are two bookends in the American presidential election financing system. Their distinct approaches are both convenient and risky and they exemplify the evolution of a public financing system that is now seen as a resource of last resort.
Republican John McCain illustrates the dilemma. He has been certified to receive $5.8 million (euro3.95 million) in matching funds but is keeping his options open. He has a $3 million (euro2.04 million) line of credit, secured with future fundraising and the value of his mailing list. McCain can wait to see how he performs in the New Hampshire primary Jan. 8 before deciding whether he wants to collect the public funds or capture a surge of new donor money.
"Candidates are adopting whatever approach can get them the greatest amount of money," said Anthony Corrado, an expert on political money at Colby College in Maine. "Romney is willing to tap into his personal fortune to remain competitive. Candidates like Edwards or McCain who don't have resources to match the leading candidates can tap public money."
Romney and his wife Ann have assets worth between $190 million (euro129.32 million) and $250 million (euro170.16 million). Aides have said money will not be a problem for the Romney campaign. As of the end of September, he had lent his campaign $17.4 million (euro11.84 million) and raised $44.8 million (euro30.49 million) from donors.
Edwards had raised $30 million (euro20.42 million) by the end of September, significantly trailing rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. At that point, the campaign decided to seek public funds.
Under the presidential financing system, candidates get matching funds for every donor's contribution of up $250 (euro170). If they accept the money, they must abide by spending limits in each primary and caucus state as well as an overall cap on primary spending. Those restrictions have prompted most of the leading candidates to decide to forgo the public money.
Edwards has so far spent more than $5 million (euro3.4 million) on advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire. He is also getting help from independent, mostly labor-financed groups that have drawn criticism from watchdog groups and from Obama. The groups, called "527" organizations for the section of the U.S. tax code that authorizes them, have been running ads supporting Edwards' policies in Iowa during the closing days of the campaign there.
Edwards, whose wealth is somewhere between $12.8 million (euro8.71 million) and $60 million (euro40.84 million), has refused donations from political action committees and lobbyists and has cast himself as the candidate less connected to Washington special interests. But Obama and other critics say the 527 groups are simply special interests helping him in another guise. Though labor groups have supplied much of the financing, one of the donors is a 97-year-old heiress to the Mellon family fortune.
Edwards has offered a finely honed response, saying he opposes the 527 organizations, but is proud of having the support of unions.


Updated : 2021-06-20 08:44 GMT+08:00