|For Immediate Release
Monday, July 2, 2007
|Contact: Press Office|
ARLINGTON, VA - U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign released the following transcript of today's press conference call regarding 2nd quarter fundraising numbers.
TERRY NELSON: Thanks Brian, and as Brian said, thanks everybody for taking the time to be on the call today. We're going to make a couple of points about the campaign. I'll make a couple of points about the campaign, and then turn it over to John Weaver, our senior strategist. As a campaign, we've worked through a number of challenges over the course of the last six months, and in some respects, we are encountering the kinds of challenges that other Republicans are facing. We face a difficult fundraising environment right now, and certainly difficult in comparison to what our Democratic counterparts are able to raise, and I think that will go for the entire field of candidates when our numbers are compared to their numbers. In addition, John McCain has offered change throughout his entire career. He has taken principled stands that have made him a courageous leader and a courageous presidential candidate. And these things will make him a remarkably effective president, but it sometimes makes fundraising more challenging. He stood up for the American taxpayer and fought against corruption, the influence of special-interest money, and its corrupting influence. He's also fought a lonely fight against earmarks and wasteful spending in Washington, D.C., and that doesn't always make us the favorite candidate of the special interests. The campaign has also witnessed as the American people have his resolve first-hand over the last month-and-a-half as he stuck with his principles, did not pander, and worked to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
While this decision was the right decision for our country it also affected the campaign's ability to raise money. Before the campaign began, we also made some incorrect assumptions about how much money we could raise. At one point, we believed that we would raise over $100 million during this calendar year, and we constructed a campaign that was based on that assumption. We believe today that that assumption is not correct. More recently, the campaign has made a number of finance a number of changes to our finance division. Mary Kate Johnson came in as our finance director, and she, working with our volunteer leadership around the country under the direction of Tom Loeffler, our national finance chairman, did a remarkable job. And the result of their efforts was that we raised $11.2 million for this quarter. To date, we've raised over $24 million, we have over 72,000 contributors, and currently have $2 mil lion cash on hand. Our donor community worked very hard, and, as I said earlier, we appreciate their efforts.
A couple of other points to make, and then I'll turn it over to John. First, I'd like to say that the campaign is seriously considering accepting public-matching funds. John McCain has long been a defender of the public trust, as I noted, because this is not a campaign designed to meet artificial benchmarks or the expectations of Washington, D.C. the Washington, D.C. pundit community. This campaign is about a man who spent his entire life in service to this country, and a man who is ready to lead this country from day one. Second, we've made a decision to restructure the campaign to help ensure that we have the resources necessary to win the Republican nomination. The campaign was restructured today, and we did that in order to make sure that we had the necessary resources to get John McCain's message out through voter contact, television, radio, direct mail. We confronted reality, and we dealt with it in th e best way that we could, so that we can move forward with this campaign, focused on winning our primaries in the early states first Iowa, then New Hampshire, then South Carolina, going on from there. We feel good about the decisions we made today. The decisions we made today were not easy. They were tough decisions. But these decisions will make John McCain the nominee of the Republican Party. I'll turn it over to John Weaver now.
JOHN WEAVER: Thank you Terry, and just to reiterate a few of the points that Terry made, this campaign believes as do most experts that the Republican nomination will be decided by what happens in the early caucus and primary states states where we have strong organizations, where John McCain has a strong base of activists and voter support. With that said, that is where we intend to take this campaign and the Senator's message. Upon the Senator's return from Iraq, he'll be leading the debate within our party and within the country on the situation in Iraq, and its impact on our global struggle against the vicious enemies who want to destroy us and our way of life. John McCain is the Republican change candidate in a change election cycle a volatile election cycle. In the coming weeks, you'll hear John leading the charge to change the status quo in Washington, where nothing but the protection of special in terests gets done. He's going to challenge our party and our country to let him end the out-of-control spending, which has shamed the Republican Party and wrecked our country's budget, and put in harm's way our children's future.
Bottom line, John will be speaking honestly in the weeks and days ahead about the opportunities and problems facing our nation at a historic time. His plan is to address those issues and challenge this generation of Americans to rise up and meet them. We know this is going to be a difficult election. As Terry stated, some of our assumptions about fundraising were incorrect, caused as much by the fact that John has been trying to change Washington his entire career, as much as he's been, that he has led and I repeat, led on tough issues in recent days and weeks. This is a volatile election. We've seen one of the top Republican candidates lose almost 50% of his early ballot share without really being attacked or scrutinized. The approval rating of the elected institutions of government one controlled by Republicans, and one controlled by Democrats are at historic and sustained lows. The country is demanding change. The country is searching for character and leadership something John McCain has exhibited his entire life in his service to America. We intend to win this nomination and the general election. It won't be because we raised the most special-interest money or the establishment money looking to support the flavor of the month. In the environment we are in, the amount of money raised by this campaign and the finance team is a remarkable achievement, and to do so with a principled candidate makes us proud. We will win this nomination by being the most aggressive campaign in the early caucus and primary states by presenting the best candidate, the best message, and the best messenger. This campaign will go to the cities and towns in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, and take the fight on a whole host of issues to the American people. And John McCain will win that fight.
JENNIFER RUBIN: Human Events. Two questions: you indicated that the early primaries are still where Senator McCain sees the battle to be fought. Have you made a decision, first of all, on participating in the debate in Ames, even though you won't be participating in the straw poll? And secondly, are you concerned about the poll numbers in those early primary states?
NELSON: I'll answer the first question Jennifer and then turn it over to John. We I believe we've made a formal commitment already to the debate in Ames.
WEAVER: And Jennifer, as I said, this is a volatile election. There are poll numbers that vary widely in the early states, as you well know. I think any independent observer will tell you that we have the best organization in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina we're very proud of that. And upon the Senator's return, one of the first places he's going to be headed to is Iowa. We know we have a tough road ahead of us as do all the other campaigns, quite frankly but we're very pleased with where we are structurally in the early states.
SAM YOUNGMAN: The Hill. I wanted to ask, you said your incorrect assumption was that you the Senator would be able to raise $100 million. What has that been revised to now for a total for the year?
NELSON: That's information that we won't reveal Sam.
RYAN SAGER: Sure, it's the New York Sun. There's been a report that Mr. Nelson is going to be working for free for the next couple months. Is that true, or any other top level staffers?
NELSON: Yes, Ryan, this is Terry. I'm obviously honored to serve the Senator, and I decided that I would take the next few months off the payroll to do that, which I'm proud to do, and I did make that decision.
MARK PRESTON: From CNN. Can you just explain a little bit more about the restructuring that you did today in the campaign, and what departments were reconfigured?
NELSON: Every department was impacted in some way by the restructuring, and it was across the board, so there was no department that was exempted from it. We obviously feel confident that we have an organization in place that can do the job necessary to elect John McCain. So while the cuts were difficult, I don't believe that they're going to affect our overall ability to do the job that we need to do: To get John McCain's message out to the American voter.
CARL CAMERON: Fox News So having fallen short of the first quarter numbers, you talked about how you'll continue to lead and, I guess, John Weaver, you emphasized leadership. Can you elaborate as to whether or not you are specifically discussing the immigration debate and how that has impacted the Senator's fundraising, as well as his Iraq position, and to what extent he'll now change his campaign tactics? In other words, for the lack of cash, are we going to see the bus a lot, and will the Senator be campaigning more than he has been? How do you move forward from here, sans the staff, on this leadership message?
WEAVER: First off, the Senate has made a decision about the immigration debate and so there is no point in going back to that. Although the Senator did say that there is common ground about border security and has urged the President about to take all appropriate measures to begin that process, and we hope that the administration and this Congress can get its act together to do at least that. His position on Iraq is clear. He'll speak to the American people and to our party upon his return from Iraq, week after next, Carl. And I'll leave that moment for itself. I mean, John has campaigned very aggressively, as you know, during this last quarter. But given the restructuring we have internally, clearly you're going to see him more in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina than we have in the last several months. And we believe, quite frankly, that good things happen when John is before the voters the conversi on rate is very high, he still draws the largest crowds of any of the Republican candidates when he is out in the early primary or caucus states, and we feel very, very positive about what happens when John is actively campaigning.
FREDREKA SCHOUTEN: USA Today. I have some follow-up questions on the restructuring. How much staff was cut, and will there be any change in leadership at all, and there is also a report that some of the key staff would be taking pay cuts in addition to Mr. Nelson volunteering his time.
NELSON: Well, we're not going to get into today the nature or depth of cuts. We typically don't talk about personnel for those kinds of personnel issues. I know there was a report that senior staff would also be taking pay cuts and I'll just also confirm that that's true.
MARC SANTORA: Marc Santora from the New York Times. Just wondering if you are going to focus on what you're calling the early states: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Do you not fear that the moved up primary schedule in larger states is going to impact that strategy, and how are you dealing with that given your financial constraints?
WEAVER: Well, we've always felt, I think most experts feel that, given the rush up in the calendar, that has put more emphasis, not less, on the impact of what happens in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and perhaps Nevada and one other state, quite frankly. So no, that's not our concern. The nomination has in the past been decided by what happens in those states. We believe that that's going to be true in this cycle, and I think most political experts agree with that. There may be other campaigns suiting their own path to the nomination theory, may have a different viewpoint, but we certainly believe that Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and their influence has been enhanced by the rush-up in the calendar.
DAN MORAIN: LA Times. Is it in fact 50 people who are being laid off, and what percentage of the campaign staff is that?
NELSON: I can't confirm that that number is true. And, as I said earlier, we're just not going to get into the overall numbers or the nature of the cuts.
JEANNE CUMMINGS: Politico. Just a quick question on taking public matching funds: have you all done the calculation already as to how much you all might qualify for thus far?
NELSON: Yeah, we have done that calculation, and, as of today, we believe it to be in the neighborhood of $6 million.
DAN BALZ: Two questions, one following up on James and another based on your cash on hand. How do you run at this point a serious campaign, given the competition on your cash on hand of $2 million? And secondly, if you're prepared to accept matching funds, doesn't this fly in the face of what you and all other campaigns have long assumed, which is that anybody who stays within those limits would be crippled if they were to win the nomination?
NELSON: Thank you, Dan. We feel confident about our ability to wage this campaign, and we don't have any real concerns about that. Obviously, other campaigns may or may not raise more money than we do, or may or may not have more cash on hand than we do, but we made the decisions and changes that we made today to address our ability to run a winning and effective campaign. We also looked at it longer-term in the belief that, you know, what happens in the long-term will matter to us, as we work for the nominee and feel confident that we'll be able to do if ultimately we choose to go this path that we'll be able to do what is necessary to be competitive throughout the summer.
BILL SAMMON: Washington Examiner. Hi guys, I want to ask you just a logistical question: How many donors this quarter? And then a broader question, how much of the shake-up, if you will, is due to the fundraising number versus other factors, perhaps the polling situation, etc.?
NELSON: Bill, I don't know off-hand the specific number of donors for this quarter, and I would be happy to get that to you. Overall, the number of donors to the campaign, to date, is 72,000 just over 72,000. The decisions to your second point the decisions that we made today were completely dictated by, you know, the reality of the campaign. That in order for us to have the money necessary to effectively communicate John McCain's message, you know, we need to downsize our efforts and/or downsize our operations while keeping them effectively able to build an organization in order to promote our candidate. So, the only thing I think you should read into it is that.
JIM KUHNHENN: Associated Press. Hi guys. Just had a follow up on the cash on hand, $2 million. I believe you ended up the first quarter with $5 million it seems that your problem may not just be in the fundraising, but in also in the spending. And I wondered what accounted for some of your highest expenditures in the quarter, and why you couldn't keep them lower given that your main rivals have pretty sizeable cash on hand.
NELSON: We're not going to get into the specifics of those kind of internal operations today.
DAN NOWICKI: I was hoping is there any way that you can quantify what the what toll the immigration debate took on this quarter's fundraising? Was there any quantifiable way you could measure, or was it just kind of a visceral feeling that it hurt?
WEAVER: Dan, it's John Weaver. We can't quantify it and I don't think that we would if we could, but we do know that it had a significant impact in the in this last quarter. We're very proud of John taking a leadership role in this, standing on principle, doing the right thing for the country, but we would be we certainly wouldn't be straight with you if we told you it didn't have an impact. Having said that, that debate is now over. I believe the Senator will be rewarded with principled stands when the voters start tuning in on this race after Labor Day, but it did have an impact.
BYRON YORK: This is National Review. I tried to stop I tried to cancel it because I had the very same question about immigration.
MOLLY BALL: Las Vegas Review Journal. You kept saying Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. Are you aware that Nevada has presidential caucuses scheduled in between Iowa and New Hampshire, and do you consider that part of your early state strategy?
WEAVER: I do, and I think I did mention Nevada, actually, and it is an important part of our strategy. And the Senator, as you know, has been to Clark County, and he's been in other parts of the state several times, and we have staff in the state, and it will remain a key element of our strategy to win the nomination.
DAVID BRODY: CBN News In terms of balance here, will there be a concerted effort now to do more fundraising in the next quarter, or are you going to just hit the road more, try to move those poll numbers up? Where is the focus at this point, guys?
NELSON: You know, fundraising is an important part of presidential campaigns, and John McCain will continue to do events and raise money, as well as doing the political stuff that he needs to do. I think like every other campaign: We were very focused on fundraising for the last four weeks, especially, but certainly for the last three months, and we'll continue to be focused on it, but also making sure that John McCain, as John Weaver said, going to the early states, spreading his message. We have great confidence in his ability to convince people through his character and his positions that he's the right man for the job. And because we have that confidence, we believe that getting him out there is a positive thing for the campaign.
MATT STEARNS: McClatchy Newspapers. Wondering, if so much time was spent in June as a follow-up to David's question raising money instead of doing retail campaigning, how can you raise enough money to run a campaign going forward, if you, in fact, do want to get him, as you said, on the road, on the trail, in front of people as much as possible?
NELSON: As I said earlier, we feel confident. We understand what we
need to do to raise the dollars necessary to get his message out there
and to get him out there, and so, there's really no question in our mind
about that. We have confidence in it, and we're going to go forward under