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The $4B presidential campaign?

February 20, 2015

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Joe Biden shoots a selfie during a South American trip. Photo: The White House

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is back in the news. He’s been on the campaign trail, but he’s not looking for votes. He’s looking for money.

As John Cassidy reports for The New Yorker, Bush is making a series of fund-raising appearances that could determine whether he can find the cash to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Writes Cassidy, “Since he’s still not officially a candidate, he isn’t bound by campaign-finance rules governing Presidential campaigns. This means that he can raise large sums of money with fewer restrictions.”

And, it looks like he’ll need it. Speaking in Iowa last week, Vice President Joe Biden suggested 2016 could be the first time presidential candidates raise a collective $4 billion.

Biden sees each candidate needing $2 billion for their run. If that happens, it would be almost double the $2.3 billion that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney raised for their 2012 race — $1.1 billion by Obama, $1.2 billion by Romney, according to an analysis by the Center For Responsive Politics.

We told you earlier how the candidates are raising money both themselves and through SuperPACs, which were enabled by the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Cassidy, in the magazine, says Biden might not be too far off the mark.

He writes, “In any case, Bush has cleverly structured things so that he can raise a boatload of money. Next week, he’s scheduled to attend another lavish fund-raiser, this one in Palm Beach, where he could raise five million dollars. Kenneth Gross, a former attorney for the Federal Election Commission, suggested … that Bush was creating a new template for Presidential campaigns: money first, politics later.”

Keep that in mind as you listen to the public remarks of the candidates. What they’re saying at the moment isn’t aimed at winning votes. It’s aimed at writing checks.

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