In '08, Highest Bidder Wins?

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While the presidency in 2008 may not be bought, the candidates are acting as if it could go to the highest bidder.

The top-tier hopefuls in both parties are raising money at a dizzying clip. Campaigning has taken a back seat to fundraisers, with many contributors ponying up $2,300 each at many events.

To be a player, it was estimated earlier that $50 million would be necessary. That number is certain to go higher as the competition increases and the need rises for advertising, consulting, and polling.

Is it possible that too much money could hamper a candidate?

Two Texans, John Connally and Phil Gramm, learned that money alone wasn't the answer. In 1980, Connally spent $11 million and won one delegate to the Republican convention. Phil Gramm dropped out of the race in 1996 before the caucuses and primaries even began, although he had raised a blizzard of cash.

Retail politics and free television on newscasts are still a weapon, although it is likely that no candidate like Jimmy Carter in 1976 will come out of nowhere in the polls to win the White House. Recall that the Carter-Ford race that year was the first conducted with public financing.

The big money raisers this year will have nothing to do with public money and its restrictions. They have bigger goals in sight and hold fundraisers in bunches on a near daily basis.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has money to burn and her husband is into the act, now that Sen. Barack Obama is a threat┬ľas a rival and for money. John Edwards is in the game as well.

On the GOP side, the trio of cash leaders are John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney. The energetic Romney may turn out to be the major surprise in collecting cash.

So if you haven't received an E-mail or letter or phone call seeking money from the top candidates or the dark horses, you probably will.