It's half a billion strong. "It" is not the price tag of the children's health insurance plan, the price for building a wall along the Mexico border or the monthly cost in Iraq. "It" is the amount of money raised in 2007 for all presidential candidates.
"It" is a half a billion strong. "It" is a lot of money.
For those in the race currently, the Democrats (Hillary and Barack) have raised one quarter of a billion dollars and spent 80% of it already. Hillary has twice the amount of money that Barack has in his. Both Democrats have more money in the bank than debt by a ratio of 11 to 1.
For the GOP, the biggest bank account is in the hand of (drum roll please) Ron Paul. Paul also has the best financial situation of any candidate if you consider loans to amount on hand. Paul owes no one money. He is debt free. Currently, Paul has almost $8 million on hand. That's more than Huckabee, McCain and Romney put together. Sounds like a Libertarian all right. And if you look at the amounts per person, Paul has few folks giving the maximum and many in the $100 - $250 range.
And in the biggest deficit spender category … the envelope please. The winner in the category of biggest deficit is … Mitt Romney. At this point Romney needs an impressive win or a dozen of them and plenty of donors to pay back the 17 to 1 deficit that he has in loans out to cash on hand. But who does he owe? Himself.
Of course, some would say looking at that would be like looking at Ross Perot's account in his 1992 run. Romney is committed to spend his own money to win the White House.
And what does Romney have for his $86,000,000 spent? A couple of first place finishes (gold medals, as he calls them) that few people are impressed with. Don't forget the $17.1 million he owes himself.
Front runner John McCain has a ratio of 3 to 2 when it comes to loans to cash on hand. He has a couple of new endorsements (the 9/11 mayor and the Governator) but cash is still hard to come by.
But McCain has something has something Mr. Money in the Bank, Ron Paul can't buy with his $8 million. A break. McCain seems to be the darling of the media and as far as I can see, that won't be changing soon. Too bad.
There would be such a contrast if Ron Paul were to be the Republican nominee. He is so different from anyone else in the race there would be few saying the two parties look too much alike. Besides, he takes the deficit spending thing to heart. But a Paul nomination is unlikely to happen at any price.
Now the Democrats have a choice between the old guard in Clinton (for the price of one, we get both of them again) and a fresh face that has a reputation of working both sides of the aisle, to accomplish what most would call, a middle of the road agenda.
So the question must be asked, do we get the best candidates money can buy? Or the one who can float a loan to his/her own campaign? Or the ones who know the campaign ropes better than anyone else? Or do we get the darlings of the media?
Before you answer that one, maybe we should know one other fact. Even with many new voters, there still are millions who ignore the process. And looking at this country and our voter participation, maybe the real answer is, we get who we deserve. A first rate country, the best in the world in many ways with a second rate leader.
Mother's milk or not.