Just the other day Elizabeth Dole dropped out of the presidential race because she had no money to finish the contest.
It coincided with the day my 16-year-old grandson announced that when he grows up, he would like to be president of the United States.
I thought it was a good idea but warned him it would be more expensive than he thought.
"How expensive?" he asked.
"Between $40 million and $60 million. How much money do you have?"
"I have $300 in the bank."
"It's a start," I said. "I'll throw in $200, provided you invite me to a White House dinner."
"Okay," he said. "Who else do I have to get money from?"
"The Teamsters Union, the Chamber of Commerce and the trial lawyers."
"What's a trial lawyer?"
"Someone who makes his money by going to court, especially when he sues the insurance companies. What the government does with the law is very important to them."
"Who else should I ask for money?"
"The paid health plans and people in Hollywood who are crazy about politicians."
"Is that it?"
"No, there are also all the industries in the country that don't want to be told they're polluting, the gas companies that would like lead in their petroleum, as well as the trucking industry and those people who are thriving on the stock market boom."
"What should I say when I ask for money?"
"Tell them the only way to keep the country politically honest is to finance those who are running for office. Mrs. Dole might have made a good president, but she ran out of money. Once the money is gone, you are not a viable candidate."
My grandson said, "Apparently if you run for president, you spend all your time raising money."
"It's a tough business. Bumper stickers don't come cheap, paid pollsters cost a mint, and spontaneous demonstrations cost millions of dollars. There is no such thing as a free election."
I could see I was getting through.
"If someone gives me a lot of money, do I have to let them sleep in the White House?"
"Of course you do. Everyone who donates to your campaign has a right to sleep anywhere he wants to. But be careful where you meet the givers. Don't take checks from people while they are visiting you in the Oval Office. Voters from the Far East can still give you money, but don't serve them breakfast."
My grandson said he was having second thoughts about being president. He said, "I could use my money for something else."
I said, "I hope so."