McCain trying to turn primary win into cash

By Jonathan D. Salant, Associated Press, 02/02/00

WASHINGTON -- John McCain rushed to turn his New Hampshire landslide into the cash necessary to keep his presidential campaign going.

His campaign's Web site took in $500,000 in contributions within hours of McCain's victory over Texas Gov. George W. Bush in Tuesday's GOP primary. National Finance Chairman Herb Allison huddled Wednesday with fund-raisers who had come to New Hampshire for the primary, and held a conference call with others in their home states.

"They have, for some weeks, been preparing lists of people to call in the event Sen. McCain won the New Hampshire primary," Allison said. "We've been preparing for success and now we're building on the success."

McCain volunteers spent Wednesday on the phone, asking potential supporters to donate or help raise money, and the Arizona senator scheduled a fund-raiser in South Carolina on Wednesday night.

In an e-mail to supporters, McCain asked them to open their wallets. After thanking them for their support and hard work, he wrote: "I am asking you to join in financially." Make a contribution, he said, and forward the e-mail to friends to so they can contribute, too.

Now's the time for McCain to cash in, said Republican political consultant Jack Cookfair.

"Bush is not as inevitable as he was a couple of days ago," Cookfair said. "That's the big difference. I suspect there were quite a few people who were waiting to see how this all played out."

On Feb. 10, McCain plans a fund-raiser in Washington D.C. His speech will be broadcast via satellite to receptions in California, Arizona and Michigan. And supporters can also stay home and chat with McCain over the Internet; the cost to participate in the interactive chat is $100.

McCain also has fund-raisers scheduled in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles this month.

"The kind of enthusiasm we've seen in New Hampshire is spreading outside its borders and we believe will result in a good fund-raising turnout," campaign spokesman Howard Opinsky said.

With only a few weeks before the Feb. 19 South Carolina GOP primary and 15 state contests on March 7, "we're redoubling our efforts on the fund-raising side," Opinsky said.

While Bush had $31 million in the bank as of Dec. 31, McCain had just $1.5 million cash on hand, plus another $6.2 million in federal funds to spend, for a total of $7.7 million. Just to be able to reach the spending caps in South Carolina, Arizona and Michigan -- the next three states where McCain is competing -- would cost the campaign $7.1 million. California would add another $12.6 million to the total.

Bush, who is not accepting federal funds, does not have to comply with the spending caps.

McCain raised $13.7 million in 1999 -- almost half of it in the last three months of the year -- plus an additional $2 million transferred from his Senate campaign fund. In January, he raised another $2.5 million.

Bush had raised $68.7 million by the end of December.