Editorial: Are presidential campaigns all about money?

Published 9:35 am Monday, June 18, 2012

Most reporting about presidential politics so far this election year has focused on fundraising. The big news lately is that Republican Mitt Romney’s May fundraising total of $76.8 million exceeded President Obama’s by $17 million. The ability to raise funds, it seems, has become the primary marker for presidential campaign success.

A certain amount of fundraising has always been an arm of politics, particularly at the state and national levels where mass market advertising is the easiest way for candidates to reach all of their potential supporters.

In recent years, however, the dash for cash seems to have become the primary objective of presidential politics. Indeed, the New York Times this week reported that President Obama attended six fundraisers on Tuesday and was scheduled to participate in two more today, including a $40,000-a-plate dinner in Manhattan. No doubt Mr. Romney is keeping as frantic a pace.

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The question all that fundraising raises is this: When does full-time fundraising leave room for being presidential? Mr. Romney may not have any responsibilities aside from winning in November, but President Obama certainly does. Nor does it seem likely that either candidate’s decision-making processes or positions are free of influence from the need to raise money.

Nor is there any question that there is more to the world than raising money. But it appears that Americans are facing a choice between candidates whose primary skill is simply raising money. The country deserves better.