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Candidates for 2008 Spend Big Bucks in 2007

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Candidates for 2008 Spend Big Bucks in 2007

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Candidates for 2008 Spend Big Bucks in 2007

Candidates for 2008 Spend Big Bucks in 2007

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It may be 11 months before the Iowa caucuses, but presidential campaigns are busy raising — and spending — money. Some of the brightest stars in U.S. politics are plenty busy, as records with the Federal Election Commission show. Wouldn't it be cheaper just to buy everyone who cares a new car?

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

It's 11 months and counting before the Iowa caucuses. Presidential campaigns are busy raising money for the next year and beyond. As commentator and Republican political consultant Mike Murphy observes, some of the brightest stars in American politics are already spending a lot of money on their presidential campaigns.

MIKE MURPHY: Now, don't get me wrong. I love politics - but this early? I'm getting Obama-ed and Hillary-ed and Newt-ed into a coma. E-mail, netroots, YouTube, Facebook, "Face the Nation" - enough already. Here's my question: what does all this premature campaigning cost?

Well, it's easy enough to find out, since running for president, like just about everything else in America, is heavily regulated by the ever-helpful federal government. Each quarter, the candidates are required by law to report every buck they spend on every free refrigerator magnet, funny hat and everything else to the Federal Election Commission in Washington.

Reporters love this because they can see who raised what, and more importantly, who was dumb enough to take a check from Larry Flynt or Paris Hilton. But for me, as a recovering political consultant, the delicious part is seeing what each candidate has blown all their money on.

The first quarter report on 2007 fundraising is due soon. And I will dare to make a guess. I've totaled up all the major presidential candidates, even throwing in Dennis Kucinich and Duncan Hunter for fun, and come up with a prediction of how much they've collectively spent so far this year. My super-guess total for the first three months of 2007 is $47,854,887.04. That is a lot of jack, a new record by all measures. So here's another fundamental question: Since it is way too early for the voters to give a hoot, who are the candidates trying to influence with all this spending? Who is all that money aimed at? Let's think about adding it up.

(Soundbite of adding machine)

One hundred senators; 435 congressman; big, big, big-time reporters at the New York Times, say, 10; Washington Post, eight - I'm jealous about it; top 10 other newspapers, magazines, cable networks, other networks, important columnists, maybe 125 more; assorted party hacks, 906; 50 governors; 50 lieutenant governors who secretly hope their own governor is crazy enough to run for president and leave office; 99 Iowa counties, each with two party chairmen, that's 198; top New Hampshire activist: 200; yes-men who hang around Capitol Hill, 400 at least; big-time liberals in Hollywood, 816; big-time conservatives in Hollywood, three; board of Halliburton, 12; board of Plan Parenthood, 33; Fortune 500 CEOs; top bloggers, 100; top hoggers, the board members of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, 24; miscellaneous yackers, interest group poo-bahs and other muckity-mucks, 550; Jimmy Carter, Graydon Carter, and Nell Carter - dead, I know, but still voting in Chicago; people I forgot, another 1,000 at most.

And finally I'll add: me. The total is 5,524 people who care. Divide that into early candidate spending of $47,854,887.04, you get $8,663.09 of candidate spending per interested person with the first primary still 10 months away and zillions more to spend. I wonder, by the time the race actually begins next year, it might've been cheaper just to buy them all a brand new car.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Mike Murphy is a writer and Republican media consultant who so far is sitting out of the presidential race.

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