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2008/12/26

McCain lawyer: Obama bid like Nixon's

McCain lawyer: Obama bid like Nixon's
By KENNETH P. VOGEL | 12/4/08 5:58 PM EST
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President-elect Barack Obama speaks.
President-elect Barack Obama speaks at the Bipartisan meeting of the National Governor's Association at Congress Hall, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Photo: AP

A close John McCain ally charged on Thursday that Barack Obama had followed Richard Nixon’s 1972 path to victory — drowning his opponent with cash — and asserted Obama was never held to account for breaking a promise to participate in a system that would have limited his campaign’s historic spending.

“If the roles were reversed and it was the Republican Party nominee who had decided to walk away from the system and spend hundreds of millions of dollars more than the Democratic nominee — having a very direct effect on the election — I do not think it would have been taken with as much equanimity by the press and the powers that be as has been the case this year,” said Trevor Potter, a McCain confidant who served as the top lawyer to the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign.

“It was, after all, Richard Nixon doing exactly that — raising an untold amount of money and blowing George McGovern out of the water — that created the public funding system in the first place,” Potter added during a panel discussion of the 2008 presidential campaign.

But Obama’s campaign lawyer Bob Bauer, also on the panel, balked at the Nixon comparison, calling Potter’s analysis “a vast vineyard” of sour grapes.

“I don’t normally think of Richard Nixon when I think of Barack Obama. I don’t normally think of George McGovern when I think of John McCain,” Bauer said, asserting Obama’s enormous financial advantage over McCain was not determinative.

Obama’s final fundraising report, due by midnight Thursday, is expected to show that he raised a record-shattering $750 million or more for his campaign, compared with the $322 million to which McCain’s campaign had access.

“This is the problem with money-based analyses,” Bauer asserted. “There isn’t a historian I know who thinks that the reason George McGovern lost in 1972 was that he didn’t have enough money.”

“I was a strong McGovern supporter, and I never walked away thinking, ‘Damn it. If only we had $750 million, we could have taken George McGovern into the White House. It was not to be. There are a lot of other reasons why elections are won and lost,” Bauer said, accusing Republicans of using “opportunistic argumentation” to “establish sort of a legacy explanation for the election” by blaming McCain’s lopsided loss on the campaigns’ disparate resources.
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