From McCain's Deep Pockets, A Bellwether

By Matthew Mosk
Thursday, February 1, 2007

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spent $7.8 million last year to assist other politicians and get his fledgling presidential bid underway, an early sign of the intensity of the spending that is expected to become a fixture of the 2008 campaign.

Among those candidates who had filed 2006 year-end reports with the Federal Election Commission late yesterday, none had come close to spending so much so early on the preparations for the presidential election.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) spent $3.4 million, ex-New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) spent $2.4 million and ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) had spent $2.1 million from his federal leadership committee by the end of November. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) doled out $1.7 million through her leadership committee, much of it on presidential groundwork, even as she sought reelection to the Senate.

Most of the major contenders also started to gear up massive fundraising operations. McCain, Giuliani and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack (D) all raised in excess of $1 million through their exploratory committees during the final three months of the year. Though Clinton did not release her Senate report yesterday, she had $14 million left over from her reelection campaign, at last report.

Activity covered by the reports only includes money raised or spent during 2006.

Bill Clinton's Stepfather Dies

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was supposed to make her first trip in more than a decade to New Hampshire this weekend. But her advisers said that the campaign swing will have to wait because of a death in the family.

Dick Kelley, former president Bill Clinton's stepfather, died in Little Rock last night.

Clinton had planned to travel through the early primary state to build on her momentum after last weekend, when she launched her campaign in the early caucus state of Iowa. Almost all of the other Democratic candidates have already campaigned in New Hampshire, and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) is planning to wind up his announcement tour there early next month.

Bill Clinton famously made his Democratic primary comeback in New Hampshire in 1992, and the Clintons have a residue of goodwill in the state. But Hillary Clinton studiously avoided visiting in recent years, to tamp down speculation about her aspirations.

She was expected to spend two days in the state, with at least one stop in Concord -- events that are expected to be rescheduled in the near future.

Bush Stays Cautious on Obama-Mania

Add President Bush to those voicing caution about Obama-mania. Bush was asked by Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto what he thinks troops would feel about a President Barack Obama.

"He hasn't gotten elected yet," Bush replied. "He hasn't even gotten the party's nomination. He's an attractive guy. He's articulate. I've been impressed with him when I've seen him in person, but he's got a long way to go to be president."

Staff writers Anne E. Kornblut and Michael Abramowitz contributed to this report.

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