Who wants to be a millionaire?
Ever since his victory in New
Hampshire John McCain's web site has been deluged with donations. Multiple
press releases through Thursday afternoon updated the online fund-raising figures, knowing that there's nothing like money to draw more attention to the cause. The total as of the last release at 7 p.m. EST was $1 million
and rising. While the money was pouring in voters did too. Two new
polls released Thursday morning showed McCain jumping from 20 points down to
dead even with George W. Bush in the South Carolina polls. The momentum has now
shifted from Bush to McCain. As the Washington Post calls it "McCain
shatters Bush aura."
This weekend McCain will address the California state Republican party's convention in
Burlingame where he'll have an especially hard nut to crack. The party almost unanimously
supports Bush and even though its primary is technically open delegates are selected solely on the
basis of the partisan vote, unlike New Hampshire and South Carolina. George W. Bush is sending
his brother, Florida governor Jeb Bush, to rally the troops, as the Texas governor focuses on the Delaware primary.
Ill take Manhattan
Thursday New York governor George Pataki
into pressure from the McCain campaign and allowed him on the ballot across
the state. The ballot issue had developed into a rancorous fight between Bush
allies and McCain who turned the struggle into a campaign weapon in his message
for political reform. Even once the concession was made neither side was willing
to give an inch. Pataki announced that the primary "should be about ideas and
issues, not about technicalities. Governor Bush will win that campaign, because
he has the ideas and he has the vision." McCain replied, "I always thought Texans
wanted a fair fight, and he obviously didn't want one."
While Bush tacks in South Carolina
Bush's activities in South Carolina
since his New Hampshire pasting provide the clearest picture yet of how
dramatically McCain has shaken the race. Instead of running as a moderate Bush
has been forced right and is now dead set on portraying McCain as more liberal
than him in words and appearances like the one he made Thursday at the
notoriously segregationalist Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Through
most of the Iowa and New Hampshire campaigns Bush made a tremendous effort to
read from a moderate script while reassuring conservatives privately that he
advocated their causes. But now that he's got competition he's running right into the arms of the extremist wing of his party. So much for compassionate conservatism.
Of course, if Bush wins the
primary, he'll have to turn back to the center in order to win the general
election. As Bill
Kristol put it Thursday "It's one thing to lurch to the right. It's another
thing to lurch back 60 years," "You could make the case that 'compassionate
conservatism' died Feb. 2 when Bush appeared at Bob Jones U."
While the GOP candidates were hammering away in South
Carolina the Democrats were sprinting around the big March 7 primary states
making appearances targeted at energizing their organizations and maintaining
media visibility. Bill Bradley swung into San Francisco for an appearance that,
had the weather cooperated, would have guaranteed him wide media play across the
state. But once it started raining, his picturesque made-for-television backdrop of the Bay
Bridge was scuttled in favor of a local seafood restaurant where over 800
supporters packed a lightly ventilated dining room. Hundreds more listened on
speakers outside. Local politicos, including former San Francisco mayor Frank Jordan,
welcomed Bradley with their endorsements and then he got down to business railing
against Bush's earlier appearance at Bob Jones University and promoting his message of
Tuesday afternoon as the Bradley campaign became aware of their defeat they sent
a letter to the Gore campaign asking for weekly debates beginning Sunday. Now that the Gore campaign appears to have rejected the offer, repeating the vice presidents offer to have twice-weekly debates and forego television advertising.
Thursday, the Bradley campaign released a letter to Gore's campaign chairman Tony
Coehlo which in oh-so-delicate terms asked for further consideration: "When you
first wrote me about debates back on September 29th you indicated that the Vice
President was "eager to participate in a series of one-on-one issue related
debates located in the early primary states." At that time there were no
conditions so it appears that the Vice President's position on debates has
evolved." The New
York Times captured the campaigns' dueling spokesmen in action. Gore
campaign spokesman Douglas Hattaway said that Bradley "can't unilaterally dictate
a schedule when we've had this challenge outstanding for a long time," referring
to Gore's previous offer which Bradley characterized as a ploy. Bradley
spokesman Eric Hauser responded "Given the vice president's interest in debating,
we find this surprising."