Who’s Got The Mojo?
Lead By Party Chairman Howard Dean, Democrats Have Chalked Up Some Impressive Political Victories. Not Coincidentally, The Clintons Are Being Pushed Back- If Not Out.
Part 1 of 2
By Perry Hicks- Special to GulfCoastNews.com Click Here for Part II
Party Conventions are no longer the lively place where the merits of presidential candidates are debated and deals are made in smoky back rooms. Modern times have reduced conventions to mere spectacles of coronation. As a result, a nominee must actually emerge almost a year in advance; recent history suggesting that 08’s ultimate picks must be clearly out in front by this September.
To do that takes more than merely offering up policy positions that resonate with voters. The successful nominee must have mojo; the combination of charisma, gravitas, instinctive political savvy, and unabashed luck.
If they have all that, then they will be able to raise more money than their competitors and thus will have the funds to not just buy ads, but also to organize the means to get out the vote on Election Day.
Money is a campaign’s life blood.
Struggle for Party Control
That is why comparison’s between Barack Obama’s fund raising and Hillary Clinton’s is of so much interest. Beyond mere voting with dollars and the most visible indicator of a candidate’s elect ability, donations directly convey power.
In terms of sheer dollars, so far Clinton and Obama fundraising-wise would seem to be running neck and neck. In the first quarter of 2007, Clinton reported raising about $26 million (a record) and Obama $25 million. In comparison, Democrat candidate Dennis Kucinich brought in only $345 thousand. However, the raw numbers don’t tell the whole tale.
While Hillary has reported having the most cash on hand and edging out Obama in 1st quarter donations, Obama has released a list of his top fundraisers that reveal how his candidacy has diminished Clinton influence within the Democrat Party.
Obama’s rise is the latest chapter in Democrat Party Chairman Howard Dean’s power struggle with the Clintons. As a presidential candidate in 2004, Howard Dean did not kowtow to then DNC chairman and Clinton loyalist Terry McAuliffe for campaign financing. He bypassed McAuliffe’s machine by directly raising cash from the grass roots- the party’s far left base- via the internet. Having his own revenue stream, Dean simply could not be controlled. Furthermore, his hard left politics was eroding however false the centrist image the Democrat Leadership Conference (DLC) wanted the public to see.
The Clinton opportunity came when Dean made his infamous January 2004 post speech “scream.” Republican and DLC operatives immediately initiated a vicious negative PR campaign to undermine Dean’s candidacy.
Dean was made to look too intemperate a man to fill the presidency. Radio and television media replayed the scream over and over until his presidential campaign collapsed.
However, Dean still enjoyed massive support with the base; so much so that to the Clinton’s chagrin, Dean was elected party chairman in 2005. On his watch the left has continually sought to undermine the DLC and, starting with Connecticut U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, force moderate to conservative Democrats out of the party.
Cut off as they were from the party fund raising apparatus, Bill and Hillary Clinton were forced to rely on their old Hollywood and New York supporters for campaign cash, and contributions to Bill’s presidential library, the Tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina relief.
While $26 million for the first quarter might sound impressive, the reliance on a small number of wealthy donors presents a problem that left unchecked will manifest itself later in the campaign. By law, the maximum contribution is $2200 for the party primary and $2200 for the general election. As the wealthy donors max out, new donations will dry up just when she will need it most.
There is some evidence this is already happening. Obama’s contributor base is currently 100 thousand and growing versus Hillary’s stagnant 50 thousand. When you consider that Bill Clinton must be working overtime twisting the arm of every contributor he can track down, this 2 to 1 disparity in Obama’s favor is foreboding.
Conversely, with Obama’s support coming from a much larger but still growing number of small contributors, Obama can continue to go back and re-solicit over and over again until they can either no longer afford to give, or they have reached their legal maximum.
At their donation levels of just hundreds of dollars, both scenarios are a long way off.
Coincidentally or not, this was Howard Dean’s exact situation in 2004: His support came from lots of small individual donations. In theory, the sky was the limit on his future campaign contributions.
The difference is that Howard Dean definitely didn’t have the mojo; his campaign was easily brought to a screeching halt.
However, efforts to derail Obama by calling him a “magic negro,” or allege an early education in an Indonesian madrassa, have clearly failed. Barring some new damaging revelation, Obama could well be the Democrat front runner by September 2007 and the Democrat nominee for president in 2008.
Some would even say an Obama-Clinton bid would be the Democrat’s dream ticket for 2008; making it all but impossible for the Republicans to overcome.
Since November, the Democrats have been marching stridently around Washington as if they actually had a mandate. In Part 2 we will look at the prospects for Republicans to conjure up their own campaign winning mojo.
About the Author.....
Perry Hicks is a former Mississippi Coast resident and was a correspondent for the old Gulfport Star Journal. He has appeared on Fox News Channel. Perry has also hosted his own radio talk show on the auto industry with a mix of politics. Perry is a former college professor and is a senior writer for GCN on stories of national importance with local interests. His articles can be found in the GCN Archive