MARGARET WARNER: Our focus tonight is on money, the lifeblood of any modern campaign. The presidential hopefuls' third quarter fundraising reports are due at the Federal Election Commission at midnight tonight.
Here's what we know so far. President Bush is well on his way to a record breaking campaign war chest, he raised nearly $50 million in the last quarter, bringing his yearly total to more than $83 million. No Democrat comes close. Howard Dean is far and away the party's fundraising leader this past quarter, raising nearly $15 million for a yearly total of $25 million. John Kerry raised an estimated $4.5 to $5 million, bringing his yearly total to $21 million. Other third quarter estimates: Joe Lieberman and John Edwards-- less than $4 million each; Wesley Clark-- $3.5 million after being in the race only two weeks; and Dennis Kucinich-- $1.6 million.
There's no word yet on fundraising totals for dick Gephardt, Carol Moseley Braun, or Al Sharpton. Just minutes before the program began Dick Gephardt's campaign reported raising $3.8 million. How do the fund-raising leaders do it? And how important is this money, this early in the campaign season? We get some answers from two New York Times reporters who cover the money trail: Glenn justice, and Richard Stevenson. Welcome to you both.
Dick Stevenson, let's start with President Bush, nearly $350 million just a staggering amount this quarter. Other than being president which gives him a huge advantage how does he do it?
RICHARD STEVENSON: What he's done is established a network of people all over the country who go out and raise large sums of money on his behalf. He has a big network of people from 2000 a big network of donors at the Republican Party has built up over the years and all of those people are in turn going out and calling everyone they know, business executives, lobbyists, neighbors, golfing buddies, and getting them to try and pony up the maximum of $2,000. They're doing it with tremendous success and the president is setting new records almost you know every month for money raising.
MARGARET WARNER: It is incredible though I read today of the total he's raised this year, excuse me, about nearly 40 percent that have, $38, $39 million came from just 300 people you're describing, who are these people and why do they do this?
RICHARD STEVENSON: They fall into a couple of different groups. There are kind of friends and old supporters of the president that range from his brother to old friends in Texas. There are people who are driven by ideology real conservatives out there who want to see him re-elected and then there are both industry executives from industries who have a real vested interest in the policies that the administration is pursuing and want to keep this administration in power and lobbyists who want not only particular policies but also the access that goes with being a big campaign contributor.
MARGARET WARNER: You mentioned when they raise this money they can get $2,000 a person or $4,000 a couple that's double the amount they could raise back in 2000. So are all of the campaigns essentially abiding by the new allowances and restrictions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law even though it's still before the courts?
RICHARD STEVENSON: That's right. At this point it's about so-called hard money, the individual donations limited to $2,000 per candidate which puts a premium on your ability to tap into a grassroots network of donors. The Democrats much more than the Republicans in the last decade or so had relied very heavily on so-called soft money, big basically unregulated contributions from corporations, labor unions, other big organizations that went directly for the most part to the party. There is no more soft money at least for now unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise, so the president's ability to raise money from this hard money donor network has been a big, big advantage to him.
MARGARET WARNER: Now Glen Justice, let's look at the Democrats and the leader there in the money race, Howard Dean, $25 million this year, how does dough it, is he really doing it mostly on the Internet or does he have some $2,000 donors too?
GLEN JUSTICE: Mr. Dean definitely has $2,000 donors. He has a net work of large fund-raisers much like the president who go out and have events. These are traditionally high dollar event, you know some big names raised money for him, George Soros, Rob Reiner the film producer so he definitely has a network like that. What's different with the Dean campaign he's been able to pair that with a robust Internet campaign raising very small amounts of money but in large numbers so he's got thousand of people giving $25, $50, $250 at a clip over the Internet.
MARGARET WARNER: Is it roughly say about half from the Internet?
GLEN JUSTICE: They said this morning it indeed is about half and that tracks with his performance earlier in the year so they're getting about half their money over the Internet and the campaign really plays to the Internet. If you spend time in the Burlington headquarters you see that their tech folks are right next door to the campaign manager and the Internet is a very integrated part of their overall strategy.
MARGARET WARNER: And are any of the other Democrats using the Internet in a major way or doing it the traditional way?
GLEN JUSTICE: Most of the candidates at this point have a net operation, a Web page, possible to contribute to them online but not integrating it into their strategy the way the Dean campaign is; the single exception -- General Wesley Clark with a pretty robust Internet operation simply because there were a number of people who decided to try and draft the general prior to his getting into the race and those people set out an Internet outfit now being used by the campaign.
MARGARET WARNER: Now the big question of course is how much of the money being raised by both... all of the candidates is being saved for the campaign television spending they're going to need to spend and let me start with you, Dick Stevenson, on President Bush, of all of this money he's raised is he spending much?
RICHARD STEVENSON: Very little. He still has something north of $70 million in the bank which is what that is really all about. To a certain extent early on fund-raising is proving your viability especially for the Democrats but really what it's all about being able to go out and use this money to yourself elected. So far Bush has been able to bank most of it away and they'll save it around the time to the Democrat nominee emerges probably in say March or so then and be able to hit the airwaves with an onslaught of commercials and be able to more quietly set up a network on the ground, people who can go out and identify likely Bush voters, figure out who needs a ride to the polls on polling day and make sure they get out and vote when it comes down to it next November.
MARGARET WARNER: Whereas Glen Justice Dean's campaign manager said of the $25 million he raised so far he has just $12 million, spending more than 50 percent of it and other candidates are spending quite a bit too -- what are they spending it on?
GLEN JUSTICE: There are a number of things they're spending it on. Many are up on television the dean campaign has been on TV in at least eight states, maybe more. There are other expenses. Dean did a large campaign swing earlier in the summer. The sleepless summer tour I think went to ten cities and that was costly.
They're spending it on consulting, they're spending it on a paid staff on the ground in key states like Iowa and New Hampshire. So there are quite a few expenses, and it's also worth noting it is a nine way primary on the Democratic side and on the Republican side Bush has no pop decision so doesn't have to worry about that primary spending.
MARGARET WARNER: Finally and Glen Justice, for you first, the issue of matching funds, the president as we all know, I think, has said he's not going to take any federal matching funds, therefore, he has no spending limits whatsoever. Are any of the Democratic candidates at this stage thinking of doing the same thing?
GLEN JUSTICE: At this stage both the Dean campaign and Kerry campaign have said they will consider declining matching funds in the primary. Nobody has said they're going to do this and what they're saying now is that that decision will probably wait until closer to the end of the year.
It's a decision that will be made based on how much they have brought in and other concerns. So at this point it's really a wait and see as to whether a Democrat will do that. If any of these campaigns decides to go that route, it will be the first time a Democrat has ever done that in a presidential race.
MARGARET WARNER: But, Dick Stevenson, since the limit as I understand it for what you can spend in the primaries if you accept federal matching funds is $45 million. If a Democrat even if he wins the primary season he's going to be really outclassed by the president if he's accepted that limit?
RICHARD STEVENSON: It's very likely in the Democrat will be virtually broke by the time the primary season is over. And you very likely are going to have a three, four, five-month period where the Bush team has something like $125 million to spend and the Democrats are going to be scrambling around to come up with any substantial amounts of money at all to get up on the air with commercials to begin rebuilding their campaign operation on the ground and generally keeping from getting steamrollered by the White House.
MARGARET WARNER: Until the conventions. Well Dick Stevenson and Glen Justice, thank you both.