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Obama’s Record Fundraising Widens Gap With McCain

Barack Obama's presidential campaign hauled in $150 million in September, igniting debate over the viability of public financing. Political analysts examine the sources of the cash, funding strategies for John McCain and the impact on fundraising in future elections.

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    Now, the impact of Barack Obama's record-setting fundraising numbers, and to Gwen Ifill.


    Even as the U.S. economy struggles to find its way out of an historic downturn, candidates for president continue to raise campaign money hand over fist.

    The latest eye-popping number: Barack Obama's one-month haul of $150 million, nearly twice the amount of the public financing John McCain has accepted to last the entire fall campaign.

    So where is all this money coming from? And how will it change the landscape for future elections?

    For that, we're joined by Jeanne Cummings. She covers politics and campaign fundraising for Politico.

    And Kenneth Gross, he's a former associate general counsel for the Federal Election Commission. He's now an attorney in private practice in Washington, D.C.

    So is this the end of the campaign-financing world as we know it, Jeanne? We heard John McCain say, "The dam is broken."


    Well, I'm skeptical of that. I think that definitely in the primary phase, it's broken.

    But when it comes to the general election, I think that there's only a few unique candidates who can actually do what Barack Obama's doing, and I think it requires two things: something unique about your campaign and/or something that really motivates people.

    And so what did we see this year? Ron Paul, very good at it. He had a very distinct message in the Republican primary. Hillary Clinton, a unique candidate, she did very well on the Internet. Barack Obama had both, lofty rhetoric, motivating rhetoric, in addition to being unique.

    I think you need a combination of those things, because if you look at the other candidates — John Edwards, John McCain, all the rest of them — they took public financing.