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Candidate Fundraising: Is This All Messed Up, or Am I Wrong?

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Of course I don't care how much the candidates raise for their campaigns (they have a right to raise as much money as they want) but, at best, this fundraising stuff has reached the silly point; and, more importantly, the 24/7 fundraising has a giant cost for the American people, and I don't mean money cost, but lost opportunity and time. We need better from our candidates.

The two presidential candidates are spending most of their time fundraising. They are spending their time with only the rich and/or celebrities... or coming up with game show ideas where people can win a chance for a celebrity style dinner. Is that what America needs right now and most? No.

Regrettably this is how presidential campaigning is done (fundraising, fundraising, and more) so of course no one steps back and thinks how absurd it is, and what a missed opportunity it is for candidates to enlighten the American people about themselves and their ideas. No candidate dares to look for a new campaign model that could really enhance the democratic process. Instead we are left with the current one which makes our candidates look like hucksters.

With all that is going on in the world, would it not be great if the candidates stopped the 'speed dating' fundraising and really talked to America and listened to America -- not with and to just the ones with the wallets open?

Think of the time both are spending schmoozing to raise money, giving the same tired rah rah speech several times a day, every day of the week. The press pool that shadows each has heard the same speeches so often that they can probably lip sync the fundraising speeches along with the candidates.

More significantly, think what COULD be done with that time by the candidates. President Obama has a full-time job (Syria? The economy? Even the Sudan? Or making friends with Congress?) and perhaps Gov. Romney could visit some inner-city and talk to people who are really desperate and find out what it would take to motivate them and revitalize their communities and schools. They matter, too.

Or how about both candidates doing something really daring like visiting states that are not "swing states" but where other Americans live with real problems, too? That would be a hint that the candidate really cares about what is going on in the lives of Americans -- not just the lives of those in swing states that strategically advance their political careers.

In May, President Obama raised $60 million and Gov. Romney raised $76 million. That is a lot of money. They raised a lot in the months before May, too. They do need some money, but how much more do they really need? Do they need to raise that much every month? The answer to that question is to look at how most of it is spent. Most of that money goes to airing and making TV ads! TV ads are very, very expensive... but are the ads really needed to get a candidate's message out? Nope... not at all.

Both candidates can get all the attention they want -- FREE -- by interviewing with the media -- TV or print. Think about it: every single news organization in the country (local, state and national) is dying to get even a 15-minute interview with a presidential candidate. There is not one inch of the country that can't be reached with a free interview. The candidates' reps just have to pick up the phone and on a minute's notice can get any interview, any place, any time. And what happens to the interviews? Other news organizations then report about them so the candidate gets even more mileage out of the original interview... and yes, it's free. It doesn't cost a dime!

So why do the candidates focus on fundraising and ignore the free media? Well... the cynic in me says because it is harder to lie in an interview. A good interview -- and it can be polite -- is not a one way street like a candidate controlled ad. An interview is not programmed by the candidate and so the candidate can't be exactly sure what will be asked.

It is also harder to take a pot shot at your opponent in an interview or place things out of context that smear your opponent. In an interview with a journalist, you look petty taking the pot shot but in a slick ad you can really do damage -- including unfair damage -- from afar. It is not that much different than waging a war by a drone than by hand-to-hand combat.

Yes, I know the cynic in you is now saying that the candidates would only look for friendly interviews that are soft -- that may be true, but that is far better than nothing, which is what the slick ads are.

But I think the American people would get much more out of many, many FREE interviews with candidates than the entertaining, slick and insulting ads.

What do you think?

Cross-posted from GretaWire.

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