The Fringe, Part 2
Presidential candidates you've never heard of.
Updated Friday, Oct. 19, 2007, at 6:30 PM
Fourth and goal: Ron Paul surprised everyone—including himself, most likely—when he raised $5 million in the third quarter. But that's just the beginning, says his campaign. They're now shooting to raise another $12 million by January, which would put him in the major leagues among the GOP candidates.
That's a lot of cash, but Paul's fund-raising director is optimistic. He said at a press conference today that only 3 percent of Paul's donors have given the maximum amount, which means that well is far from dry. Also, roughly 35,000 donors gave to Paul in the third quarter—a respectable number, given that Romney had 23,000 new third-quarter donors. Plus, he says, Paul has been more frugal than his opponents. (An indication of the way they'll behave in office, surely.) He's "the only top-tier candidate who carried no debt into the fourth quarter," according to the campaign. Top-tier being their words, not mine.
The $12 million figure is notable not just for its size, but also for being mentioned at all. It's uncommon for a campaign to state its fund-raising goals at the outset, given that things could get ugly. But Paul is taking the transparency a step further: His Web site has a donation "thermometer," which lets you see how close they are to achieving the goal. Every time a new person donates, their name flashes on-screen. (There's an opt-out feature in case a member of, say, the Giuliani family wants to chip in.) Barack Obama has a similar "Closing the Gap" feature on his site now to motivate donors, intended to help him catch Hillary. But that's only a two-day project. If things slow down for Paul later this quarter, the whole world will know about it.
As for where all this cash will go, Paul will soon start spending on radio and TV ads in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa, and Nevada. More details here.
Choir Boy: Barack Obama has announced his "Embrace the Change" gospel tour, a three-day concert series around South Carolina at the end of October, featuring Mighty Clouds of Joy and a handful of other gospel stars.
The concerts are clearly meant to boost Obama's God cred. For one thing, a lot of people still believe Obama is a Muslim—a notion that was buttressed by a Fox News report last January that he was educated at a radical Muslim madrassa. Plus, South Carolina voters often say they plan to use prayer to decide which candidate to vote for. If Obama is lucky, their ears will still be ringing in January.
But more importantly, Obama now gets to one-up Hillary on the musical front. Hillary held a fund-raising event last week in Boston with the Goo Goo Dolls. She also plans to have Elvis Costello play at her 60th birthday party in New York. She's been using Celine Dion's "You and I" as her campaign theme song—let's hope they stick to the recorded version.
There's a good case for electing the candidate with the best musical taste. It will decide whether we spend the next four years listening to over-the-hill boomer tunes—Fleetwood Mac was just the beginning—or these guys, who are old but still more fun to watch than John Rzeznik. (As a general rule, appeals to youth culture are a no-no. The Black Eyed Peas' performance at the 2004 DNC still haunts me.)
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Photographs of: Mark Klein courtesy of Dr. Klein; Jack Shepard courtesy of Dr. Shepard; Rudy Giuliani in the Republican presidential debate by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images; Bill Richardson baseball card courtesy the Richardson campaign; Duncan Hunter by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images. Photographs of Sam Brownback by: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images; Darren McCollester/Getty Images; Mandel Nagan/AFP/Getty Images; Scott Olson/Getty Images; Bill Pugliano/Getty Images; and Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.