Presidential Price Tag

Andy Rooney Calculates The Rising Cost Of Running For President

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney. It was originally broadcast on April 1, 2007.

It's embarrassing these days to see how much the people who want to be president are spending trying to get that job. Something's gone wrong with the democracy that we're so proud of.

The candidates are spending a fortune trying to buy our vote and most of us would rather have the cash.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln spent $100,000 on his campaign and this may have been the beginning of the idea that the candidate who spends the most wins, because Stephen Douglas spent only $50,000 running against Lincoln and he lost big time.

In the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush spent $367 million and the loser, John Kerry, spent $328 million. Why does anyone want to be president that bad?

There's been a steady increase in what it costs to get elected. Calvin Coolidge spent only $4 million in 1924. Then Herbert Hoover came along in 1928 and spent $6 million.

Hoover spent less than $3 million to lose four years later during the Depression. It must have been cheaper to buy votes during the Depression.

Political experts say that a candidate's going to need $400 million to run a campaign in 2008.

What in the world are we doing? All we want is a smart, honest man or woman in the White House. It doesn't seem as though the candidates should have to spend $400 million lying to us about how wonderful they are because we know they aren't.

I'm already suspicious of anyone who thinks he or she is smart enough to be president. You'd have to have some ego to believe that about yourself.

It isn't usually clear why any of us votes for anyone anyway. I certainly don't always know why I vote for one candidate instead of the other. Quite often, I think a lot of us vote against some of them. There are candidates we hate. We're not really for any of them.

Maybe we should change our system. Our vote wouldn't indicate which candidate we wanted most. It would indicate which candidate we liked the least. The one who got the most votes would lose.