GOP presidential candidate John McCain is a longtime reformer and critic of pork barrel politics, but a stop he made in New Hampshire was guilded with irony, CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer reports.
"We won't reform anything until we first reform how we finance our political campaigns," the Arizona senator said.
This was ironic because his plea came on the very day campaign fund-raising was breaking all known records.
As the powerful chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which regulates thousands of American businesses, McCain has had the clout to raise more than $4 million himself this year - more than Elizabeth Dole, Dan Quayle and all the rest of the Republican hopefuls, all that is, but front-runner George Bush who has raised a staggering . . . well, let him tell it:
"We have raised, as of right now, $35 million," the Texas governor said.
That not only tops anything anyone has ever done, it's nearly double the $18 million plus raised by Vice President Al Gore, who also has to be nervous about Bill Bradley, his rival for the Democratic presidnetial nomination. Bradley has raised $11 million, not bad for a man taking on a sitting vice president in his own party.
Modern politics, with its polls and consultants and commericals ,has become so expensive that even reformers like John McCain see nothing wrong about candidates having to collect so much money from individuals.
So McCain is focusing instead on trying to close loopholes which allow special interests to funnel huge contributions to the political parties.
"What I find wrong is the six-figure amount of money which then buys people nights in Lincoln bedrooms, seats on official trade missions, all kinds of influence which is inordinate," McCain said.
It's a nice thought, but Congress has repeatedly killed the idea and is unlikely to reverse itself now. Campaign spending has already gone through the roof, seems on course to set a new altitude record, and we're still more than a year from the election.
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