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Obama Team Worries over Campaign Cash Flow

Obama Team Worries over Campaign Cash Flow

New York magazine just published a hefty pieceby John Heilemann giving a behind-the-scenes look at the comingelection from the point of view of the Obama campaign. The O-team isconfident they’ll win, we’re told, and yet Heilemann conveys a realsense of foreboding campaign insiders seem to share on one issue: money.

[T]heunprecedented flood of dollars that is about to engulf the presidentialrace–and the near certainty that the majority of them will be spent bythe Republicans–is what keeps [Campaign manager Jim] Messina and hisbrethren awake at night, gnawing at their fingernails like a pack offeral crystal addicts after a hellacious weeklong binge…

money is a huge problem,” confides a senior campaign maven. “We’ll seehow long we can stand it. The money alone can’t beat us, but if we getbad jobs numbers a couple months in a row, then all of a sudden, thingscould get kinda hairy.”…

Although Obama is surely raising aboatload of dough, it appears his campaign (combined with the DNC) couldfall short of its goal of $750 million. (Its April fund-raising totaldeclined to $43.6 million from $53 million in March.) Meanwhile, thepro-Obama �super-PAC, Priorities USA Action, has raised less than $10million since setting up shop more than a year ago–$2 million of it fromJeffrey Katzenberg–leading a highly placed Democrat involved in thereelection effort to describe it to me as a “fucking abysmalfailure.”…

[I]n the end, the cumulative spending on the Democratic side will beabout $1 billion, compared with maybe $1.6 billion on the Republicanside…

“It concerns me gravely,” [Senior Adviser David] Plouffe tells me.about the question of what the economy’s gonna do over the next three orfour months.”

 If the Obama team is nervous, it may be because they have noexperience playing from behind. In 2008, Obama jettisoned his commitmentto public financing and eventually raised $750 million over 21 months. That was more than triple the $238 million raised by his opponent John McCain.

And contrary to what the Obama team says now about beating the comingRomney ad blitz with their solid ground game, that’s not how theyfought in 2008. As the Post’s Chris Cillizza reportedin October of that year, the Obama team spent three times as much on TVads as the McCain camp during the final weeks of the election. The DNCalso had a 2:1 edge in ad dollars over the RNC in early October, though the spending was reportedly even the last two weeks before the election.

This is a team that’s used to having a big money advantageto help coordinate their media. That’s not going to be the case this time out. That’s one reason, according to Heilemann, why “2008’s candidate of hope stands poised to become 2012’s candidate of fear.”

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