RNC Considers Siphoning Funds from McCain to Senate GOPers
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 09:05:07 PM EDT
It was only a matter of time. The McCain campaign has, in effect, been running in recent days on a platform of the impending doom facing Senate and House Republicans. In return, congressional Republicans in even the reddest parts of the country have been seen hugging Barack Obama and shunning John McCain. Now, Jonathan Martin reports, the Republican National Committee is laying down its chips, shunning the role party committees traditionally take during presidential elections by earmarking significant funds to help the GOP maintain at least a 41-seat minority in the Senate.
The Republican National Committee, growing nervous over the prospect of Democrats' winning a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, is considering tapping into a $5 million line of credit this week to aid an increasing number of vulnerable incumbents, top Republicans say.
With party strategists fearing a bloodbath at the polls, GOP officials are shifting to triage mode, determining who can be saved and where to best spend their money.
And with the House and Senate Republican campaign committees being drastically outspent by their Democratic counterparts, and outside groups such as Freedom's Watch offering far less help than was once anticipated, Republicans are turning to the national party committee as a lender of last resort.
A decision is imminent because television time must be reserved and paid for upfront, and available slots are dwindling.
Party insiders, according to Martin, tried to play this move off not as a diversion of money away from McCain, but it's difficult to it as anything else. There are limited resources in politics -- yes, even for the well-funded Obama campaign, and certainly this year for Republicans -- and believe you me if McCain were down by a point or two rather than eight the $5 million loan would be going to him rather than Senate Republicans. Indeed, this is what occurred within the Republican Party in 1996, when the RNC shifted funds away from lagging presidential nominee Bob Dole towards the party's efforts in Congress. But while the GOP was able to stem losses in Congress that year, losing eight seats in the House and actually picking up two seats in the Senate -- keeping both chambers under Republican control -- the party's chances to win majorities on Capitol Hill or even curtail losses this fall are decidedly worse. At the least, it appears that the apparent civil war within the party could continue yet another day.