RNC considers investing $5 million in Senate races

The committee may borrow money to try to save vulnerable senators, rather than bail out the party's flailing presidential candidate.

Published October 14, 2008 4:45PM (EDT)

Folks at the McCain-Palin campaign can’t be pleased to hear that the Republican National Committee is considering tapping a line of credit and spending $5 million on the reelection campaigns of Republican senators. Though no decision had been made as of when Politico reported this story Monday night, the RNC has little time to decide before available TV ad slots disappear.

If the committee does invest money in Senate races, it will be widely interpreted as a sign that the party is preparing for John McCain’s defeat. Instead of trying to save the presidential candidate, the RNC would be trying to stop the Democrats from achieving the overall domination of Washington that would come with a 60-seat, filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Adding insult to injury, this presents yet another way to compare the McCain campaign to the Bob Dole campaign of 1996. Under then chairman (now Mississippi Gov.) Haley Barbour, the RNC diverted money from Dole's sinking campaign to Senate and House campaigns in an effort to stop the bleeding down-ballot and preserve the GOP’s fledgling majorities.

For what it's worth, though, Republican sources told Politico that they haven't left the party's presidential nominee for dead. “We’re not giving up on McCain,” an unnamed "top GOP source" told Jonathan Martin. “We’re still going to do everything we can there because his margin and what he does affects these races.”

By Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz.