Reporters often race to the phone when news breaks. Now, a presidential candidate is doing the same thing.
"In an attempt to respond to important issues immediately, I'm doing this commercial by phone," Steve Forbes says in an ad that was still being cut last night for broadcast in New Hampshire on Thursday.
The commercial includes Forbes's sharpest jab by far at GOP front-runner George W. Bush, whom the millionaire publisher accuses of "betrayal" on Social Security.
Noting that current law is boosting the retirement age for many Americans from 65 to 67, Forbes says: "Now, George W. Bush says he'll consider raising it even higher. I say it's a betrayal, because that money has been promised to you at age 65. As president, I'll take Social Security out of the hands of politicians who break promises and put you in charge of your retirement money."
Forbes has proposed giving retirees the option of investing part of their benefits, although the process would still be subject to government regulation.
The urgency of phoning in the ad was not quite clear, because it responds to Bush's Nov. 21 appearance on "Meet the Press." In that interview, Bush said raising the eligibility age "may be an option for the boomer generation," perhaps as "part of a trade-off" for private investment accounts.
Bush spokesman Scott McClellan would not respond to Forbes directly, saying only that the Texas governor is committed "to protecting Social Security" and keeping benefits intact.
McCain's Fund-Raising Picks Up
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain says his campaign has translated political momentum into campaign money in recent weeks, collecting $4 million in October and November after raising less than that in the entire previous quarter.
Overall, McCain has raised $11 million for the contest and transfered an additional $2 million from his Senate campaign account. That puts him a very distant second to George W. Bush, who had collected a record $57 million as of Sept. 30.
But the McCain team argues that its stepped-up fund-raising is a reflection of the Arizona senator's rise in polls, which show McCain giving Bush a serious challenge in the Feb. 1 New Hampshire primary. In the third quarter, McCain raised just $3.1 million and spent much of that.
"I think it's people out there who are seeing the race develop," said McCain spokesman Howard Opinsky, who noted that the McCain team has added 60,000 contributors in the last two months, compared with 40,000 total through Sept. 30. "They see us as a candidate who's making inroads."
Internet fund-raising has also picked up. McCain has more than doubled his online money since September, for a total so far of close to $750,000.
Even so, the McCain team still has millions more dollars to raise this month if it hopes to collect its goal of $15 million to $20 million by the end of 1999--a reflection of just how much GOP money has been swept up by the Bush fund-raising team.
Giuliani's Pledge From Bush
New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, on a Texas fund-raising trip this week, took a break from raking in the bucks for his likely Senate campaign to pay a call on Gov. George W. Bush, who assured the mayor he'd help him shore up his political prospects back home.
While Giuliani holds a slight edge in most polls over Hillary Rodham Clinton, his prospects could be dampened by the state Conservative Party's reluctance to embrace him. Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long said Monday that Giuliani must move to the right--particularly on abortion rights, which Giuliani supports--to garner its support. And Long suggested that he might run his own candidates unless Giuliani capitulates. "I don't intend to lighten up" on abortion, he told the Associated Press.
The Conservative Party's endorsement can help deliver a few hundred thousand votes.
Bush told reporters in Texas after meeting with Giuliani that he plans to snag the Conservative Party's support and "if they support me, I hope I can convince them to support the mayor as well."
Staff writers Susan B. Glasser and Terry M. Neal contributed to this report.