Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

November 28, 2003

by V

Iowa money race

Dean Doubling Ad Buy in Iowa, Will Air New 60-Second Spot - from Tampa Bay Online
Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean is doubling his ad spending in Iowa - to at least $400,000 over 10 days...

...Dean's power play puts pressure on Gephardt because it is unclear whether the Missouri congressman can match or exceed the former Vermont governor's buy. Gephardt is slated to spend less than half of that - about $160,000 - during the same period...

One aide said the new spot seeks to broaden voter understanding of Dean. At 60 seconds, it is twice as long as a standard ad and twice as expensive. The buy is so large that the average Iowa TV viewer could see the spot 18 times over 10 days.

Bill Carrick, Gephardt's media adviser, said the buy proves that Dean's decision to opt out of the public financing system had nothing to do with challenging President Bush next year.

"It's evidence that it always had to do with him spending way more than the cap in Iowa," Carrick said. "He's trying to buy the Iowa caucuses."

Dean has spent about $1.8 million on ads in Iowa, compared with about $1.2 million spent by Gephardt, who was absent from the airwaves for two weeks earlier this month.
You're so vain / You probably think this song is about you...

First, the AP article doesn't mention (but this NY Times one does) the important detail that the Iowa spending cap is about $1.3 million. Dean will apparently spend almost half again that amount by the caucuses.

An extra $500,000 is less than a week's take on the blog. Does the Gephardt campaign honestly believe that spending that $500,000 is the whole point of the cap-busting? Do they give no credence to the Dean contention that it will be very hard to fight Bush between the decisive primaries and the convention unless you raise more money than the caps allow? Please, someone help me understand the Gephardt position on that.

The reality is, Bush busted the caps first, and thus any serious contender has to strongly consider doing the same. Dean didn't start it, and mewling about his strategy is just sad. No one's preventing Gephardt from raising as much as Dean, and no one's stopping Gephardt from busting the caps himself. He just can't, so he complains.

And where's the outrage from Gephardt against Kerry, who's going to do something similar but with his own personal money, not even contributions from supporters? Kerry's shooting for second in Iowa; I would think Gephardt would be worried about him too.
Update: As J points out in a comment, the NYTimes article mentions a salient fact many paragraphs down: Gephardt busted the caps in 1988. So his current bleating no longer passes the laugh test.
Mr. Gephardt overshot the 1988 [Iowa] state limit by about $457,500, or about 60 percent, allowing him to sweep to victory in Iowa. Four years later, his campaign agreed to repay almost $119,000 of his federal campaign subsidies, and three years later he paid a civil penalty of about $80,000 for that and other violations, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Posted by V at November 28, 2003 01:25 PM

The "you're so vain" line is spot on. If Dean's busting the caps, it's just as likely to be to compete with Kerry (who's probably also doing so -- various news articles imply it, anyway...).

Also, turns out that Gephardt busted the caps by almost $500,000 (in 1988 dollars) in his last Presidential run even after taking public funds and agreeing to abide by them. Hypocrite, much?

For all that, the state spending limits are notoriously porous, with many significant campaign expenditures, like staff salaries, not counted against the cap. And candidates, notably Mr. Gephardt when he ran for president in 1988, have been known to break the limits knowing that such an infraction would probably not be noted until well after the campaign.

Posted by: J at November 28, 2003 08:01 PM

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