The big questions on FEC day
By Aaron Blake and Rachel Weiner,
Today is the last day for federal candidates to file their second quarter financial reports, and The Fix has got your hook-up.
We know most of the presidential numbers have already been announced, but there is plenty left to be discovered today, from Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) much-anticipated fundraising numbers down to some early incumbent-versus-incumbent matchups in the House.
Keep an eye on The Fix for all the latest. But to get you started, here are some of the big questions that will be answered:
* Can Bachmann match the hype? The Bachmann campaign’s decision to give very little indication of their fundraising numbers could either pan out very well or very poorly. So far, it seems to have only upped the ante as far as how much she is expected to have raised, and that could be a dangerous expectations game.
At this point, if she doesn’t finish second in the GOP presidential primary behind former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s $18.5 million and ahead of the $4.5 million raised by Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (whose number was upped after initially being announced as $4.2 million), it will register as a disappointment among most observers.
Indeed, it may come to that, as CBS News cites a source close to the campaign putting the number at $4 million, including a $2 million transfer from her House campaign. Bachmann’s team wouldn’t confirm those numbers late Thursday.
Keep in mind, though – Bachmann didn’t officially launch her campaign until late June, and she didn’t pick up momentum until after the debate June 13 in New Hampshire. Even if you’ve caught the attention of lots and lots of conservatives looking for a fresh face, that’s still only two weeks in which she was considered a real contender.
By the same token, this is a woman who raised $1.7 million for her HOUSE campaign in the first quarter, so she should have a much bigger number than that.
* What’s in Obama’s report? We know the topline numbers for President Obama — $47 million for his campaign and $38 million raised for the Democratic National Committee — but a lot will be revealed when the actual report is filed, including who is bundling money for him, what percentage of money he raised from small-dollar donors and how much he has spent building up his 2012 infrastructure.
On small-dollar donors, for instance, Obama’s campaign has said that 98 percent of donations came in at $250 or less, but it hasn’t said what percentage of the total money raised came from those small donors. (Indeed, a promotion that asked for $5 contributions to enter a raffle for dinner with the president likely inflated those numbers.)
The document itself will be upwards of 15,000 pages, so it will take time to comb through.
* Do GOP Senate candidates assert themselves? Republicans are counting on winning four seats and re-taking the majority in the Senate in 2012. To do that, though, they’ll need money. And in a few states, GOP candidates will need to prove they can raise funds.
Among those with something to prove are Attorney General Jon Bruning in Nebraska, former state treasurer Sarah Steelman and Rep. Todd Akin in Missouri, and former congresswoman Heather Wilson and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez in New Mexico.
The GOP already got some good news when Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) announced an outstanding $2.3 million raised. In Virginia, meanwhile, former Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine raised nearly as much, giving his party renewed hope of holding that seat.
Nebraska and Missouri are pretty close to must-wins for the GOP in 2012, so the fundraising of the GOP field in those two states will be especially key. If the GOP can count on winning those two seats, plus North Dakota, and it holds all its seats, it would be in a 50-50 tie with Democrats.
* Can House GOP freshman pick it up? The huge class of freshman House Republicans didn’t exactly get out of the gate quickly in the first quarter, raising significantly less than its Democratic counterparts did after big Democratic waves in 2006 and 2008.
With Democrats now saying that the majority is winnable in 2012 and the GOP’s Medicare reform proposal weighing down the party, the onus is on those Republicans to raise the money to fight back against those attacks.
* Who’s raising more money in member-versus-member races? The most interesting House races of 2012 will likely be the ones that feature two members of Congress thrust into running against each other thanks to redistricting. We know some of their totals already – Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), for example, had a huge $580,000 quarter as he prepares to face Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), and Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) raised a very strong $474,000 for his matchup with Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.).
In other cases, members who are getting a raw deal from redistricting may decide to throw in the towel, in which case they will likely turn in a small fundraising report.
If you want to know who else could face such a matchup, check out our Friday Line from last week.
Bachmann’s husband says clinic does help gays turn straight, but only upon request: Bachmann’s husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Thursday that, while the couple’s clinic does offer to help turn gay people straight — otherwise known as “reparative therapy” — that is not the focus of its practice, and it only does so at the patient’s request.
Bachmann said a gay rights activist who recorded a video showing a counselor trying to push him toward heterosexuality was given the treatment he asked for.
“This individual came to us under a false pretense,’’ he said. “The truth of the matter is, he specifically asked for help.’’
Bachmann also said such treatment is only done when requested.
“Will I address it? Certainly we’ll talk about it,” he said. “Is it a remedy form that I typically would use? ... It is at the client’s discretion.”
Reparative therapy is a controversial subject, especially in professional medical circles.
Wallace: Bachmann flake question was fair: In an interview with Don Imus yesterday, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace said that the question he apologized for asking Bachmann last month was legitimate — if poorly phrased.
Wallace asked Bachmann in a late June interview, “Are you a flake?” Bachmann responded that the question was insulting, and Wallace later apologized in a video.
“I thought that the topic was perfectly legitimate and I certainly would do it again. The topic was basically that she has said some questionable comments, things that were demonstrably wrong over the past,” Wallace said. “I certainly had no intention to be disrespectful and I certainly was not saying, ‘You are a flake.’ What I was basically saying was, ‘How do you respond to the perception that you are a flake?’ But it came out wrong.”
Rep. Mazio Hirono (D-Hawaii) outraised former congressman Ed Case (D-Hawaii) in the second quarter. Both are running for retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka’s (D-Hawaii) seat.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) raised $900,000 in the second quarter and has $2.9 million on hand for what will be a tough reelection campaign.
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) raised $511,000 for his Senate campaign.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) opine on spending in the Post.
Romney finally weighs in on the debt ceiling, calling for a balanced budget amendment.
There’s talk of canceling the president’s 50th birthday party, which just happens to fall on the day after the debt limit is supposed to be hit.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has irritated tea partiers with his proposal to give Obama the ability to raise the debt limit, signs the Cut, Cap and Balance pledge.
Bachmann announces her campaign team.
Bob Vander Plaats stands by the “Marriage Vow.”
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) accuses Obama of lying.
Bachmann hits Whoopi Goldberg in a fundraising letter.
Fix-approved “Friday Night Lights" airs its last episode tonight.
“McConnell leaves door open to McConnell ‘back-up plan’ on debt limit” — Felicia Sonmez, Washington Post
“Minnesota governor, GOP lawmakers agree to end shutdown” — Michael A. Fletcher and Rachel Weiner, Washington Post
“GOP ‘young gun’ Cantor draws controversy, ire” — Nancy Cordes, CBS News
“Democrats attack Romney PACs” — Dan Eggen, Washington Post