Finally, an article that characterizes John McCain's efforts in early primary states for what they actually are.
WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain is sending Rudy Giuliani a message about the 2008 presidential contest: Don't even think about it.
The Arizona Republican's political action committee, Straight Talk America, announced yesterday it has signed up a whopping 50 state representatives in New Hampshire.
And that's only the latest of dozens of announcements in recent weeks crowing over McCain supporters in key primary states like Iowa and South Carolina.
A confident candidate would not be trying to send signals to other candidates to "not even think about it." McCain and his advisers know that if Giuliani runs for President, the jig is up.
Outside of moderates, McCain doesn't have any real grassroots support, so he has to fake it. He (and Mitt Romney) have employed the novel strategy of contributing directly to cash-starved early state legislative candidates in increments of $1,000 and $5,000 -- candidates who have seldom ever seen a check that big. That makes a difference.
But if you look at Straight Talk America's FEC reports, McCain has spent roughly $700,000 this year on non-federal campaign contributions, the vast majority to the early states. September was a particularly active month for McCain in New Hampshire and it was followed by a boatload of endorsements. McCain's
bribes contributions clearly worked.
But take a step back and consider this: $700,000 is not a lot of money in presidential politics. In fact, it's worth about a week of TV in a medium-sized state. Which suggests to me that this is less real and more of a head game with Giuliani than anything else, something the Daily News conveys pretty well.
Endorsements work, but they only work when they're in sync with the preferences of the Republican rank-and-file activists who dominate early primaries and caucuses.