McCain uses Palin as fundraising tool

Biden comes to Chicago
September 9, 2008 4:41:42 PM PDT
Republican presidential nominee Ariz. Sen. John McCain is seeing a boost in the polls and in fundraising.On Monday night in Chicago, he raised $4 million and Tuesday night, Democratic vice presidential nominee Del. Sen. Joe Biden was in town raising money for the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Ill. Sen. Barack Obama.

"I was in rooms a year ago with John McCain where if we got 20 people there and raised $10,000 we were lucky. So, I've seen every peak and valley in this campaign from the elections but also the fundraising side," said State Rep. Jim Durkin, (R) McCain's Illinois co-chairman.

McCain is on a fundraising roll as Illinois Republicans, energized by the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, poured more than $4 million into the GOP coffers in Chicago.

But Durkin said he is realistic about the shelf life of the Palin phenomena.

"Sarah Palin has certainly ignited the Republican base, and a certain amount of independents, and crossover Democrats, but at the end of the day, people are going to vote for John McCain or Barack Obama," he said.

"Sarah Palin may be a fine woman. Even though we disagree, I don't want a pit bull. Pit bulls belong in kennels, not the White House. But many women felt very insulted by the choice of that particular woman," said Marilyn Katz, Obama supporter.

Katz, a Chicago activist and public policy consultant, raised $100,000 for Obama in the primary. She said she wants to raise $300,000 more by November. And she says that McCain's choice of Palin is beginning to energize Democrats, like it's already pumping up Republicans.

"The Palin-McCain ticket and even the jump in the polls will energize the massive base of active voters and active voter registrars that really inhabit the Obama campaign," Katz said.

"It's going to get down to the business at hand that, who do they feel is more ready to lead this nation in some very turbulent times,"Durkin said.

"No one denies it's a dangerous world out there," Katz said. "But Barack gives them hope there's another way besides war and destruction to traverse the conditions that we face."

"I'm very proud and I'm very pleased at the enthusiasm that's been sparked," McCain said. His fundraiser, in Obama's hometown, followed several days of campaigning in which Palin has nearly overshadowed the head of the ticket.

The first-term Alaska governor has already been good for McCain's fundraising efforts. Of the $47 million he raised in August, $10 million came in the three days after he announced he had chosen her as his vice presidential running mate, the campaign said.

McCain's campaign said the $4 million Monday was raised for the national Republican Party and state GOP committees, which will then spend it on McCain's behalf.

McCain spent about half of his speaking time Monday boasting about Palin. He also sought to reassure supporters who might be wary about her experience level. She became governor in December 2006 and before that was mayor of small-town Wasilla, Alaska.

"She was thoroughly vetted and I'm proud of the experience and the talent she brings to our ticket, and she will bring to the presidency and vice presidency of the United States of America," McCain said.

McCain also repeated his line against Obama from earlier in the day, when he and Palin criticized the Illinois senator for the amount of money he has requested for his home state, even though Alaska under Palin's leadership has asked Washington for 10 times more money per citizen for pet projects.

McCain and Palin accuse Obama of requesting nearly $1 billion in earmarks for Illinois. The new line of attack came after Obama made his first direct criticism of Palin over the weekend, using the topic of earmarks, which are special projects that lawmakers try to get for their districts and constituents.

"Just the other day our opponent brought up earmarks -- and frankly I was surprised that he would even raise the subject at all," Palin said. "I thought he wouldn't want to go there."

Obama hasn't asked for any earmarks this year. Last year, he asked for $311 million worth, about $25 for every Illinois resident. Alaska asked this year for earmarks totaling $198 million, about $295 for every Alaska citizen.

Palin has cut back on pork project requests but, under her administration, Alaska is still and by far the largest per-capita consumer of federal pet-project spending.

The governor did reject plans to build the notorious "Bridge to Nowhere" after Congress had cut off its financing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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