Friday, February 29, 2008

The politics of loans

While we are on the matter of money, an unexpected (to Polprint) concern about Hillary Clinton surfaced at the end of a New York Times article about Bill Clinton earlier this week. John Broder of the Times quotes a voter in a working-class Ohio town as being concerned about Clinton's $5 million loan to her campaign.

“Where did that come from?” [the voter] asked. “A lot of people in this area who thought she was for the working middle class, and the poor are wondering about that. That’s a lot of money. That really hurt her in this area.”

Polprint will not comment on whether that voter should be more up on Bill Clinton's speaking fees, both Clintons' book advances and anything else that may be buried in her unreleased tax returns. It doesn't matter. If there is actually a perception that Clinton, by virtue of her personal wealth as displayed in the loan, is out of touch with ordinary voters, then that is an interesting and under-explored angle in the race. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama is going around the country saying, "Can you imagine a president of the United States that has just paid off his student loans?" (The Obamas say they paid them off just over three years ago.)

Speaking of loans, Polprint is trying to muddle through the controversy about the $4 million line of credit to the McCain campaign. The question is whether he promised public money as collateral. Democrats assert that he did (and have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission to that effect); McCain says that he did not--rather, that his list of donors and his abilities to get at their pocketbooks served as collateral. If he did promise public money, then he may be required by law to stick to a public spending limit of $54 million until September. That would be a problem because McCain's campaign has already gone through $49 million. This Washington Post article does as good a job as any of explaining the mess.

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