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The Obama Campaign's Out of Control Spending

12:28 PM, Jul 17, 2008 • By JAIME SNEIDER
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The $52 million figure may not be a disaster for the Obama campaign, but it is hardly a success. Not just because it's far below what the Obama campaign projected in June. It's a disappointment because it includes general election contributions from those who had previously maxed out. Remember also that unlike the money McCain is raising, which has to be spent by the time he receives $84 million in public financing, Obama's money needs to last all the way through the election.

With a burn rate of $42 million a month, Obama's campaign can just barely sustain its current levels of spending. And what's leftover may not be adequate to run the kind of campaign he needs to win. Just consider despite all the money he's raised, Obama has been outspent on television by 3 to 1 in the last two months. All the stagecraft and theatrics has come with a hefty cost.

Compared to the McCain campaign, Obama has spent three-and-a-half times as much on payroll and benefits, ten times on event staging, two-and-a-half times as much on travel and lodging, and three times as much on food and meetings. Despite being given free protection from the Secret Service, which has proven sufficient for other candidates, the Obama campaign has spent nearly $400,000 on outside security consulting, nearly all of it paid to a security firm that specializes in dangers emerging from "political instability, acts of terrorism, kidnapping, white collar crime, and cyber-attacks."

Although the Obama campaign has portrayed itself as "frugal" for making staffers take public transportation from O'Hare, FEC reports of the campaign's spending paint a very different picture. Obama's overhead is $10 million more per month than McCain's, and this is likely to increase substantially given his campaign's out of control spending and lofty plans for the general election.

Obama recently told reporters, "I've never been a big entourage guy. … And that takes some getting used to." Well, the size of Obama's campaign suggests he's gotten used to the idea very quickly. Before even locking up the nomination, Obama's paid staff was already in excess of 700 people. In the last month, Obama has hired dozens if not hundreds of staffers, and his National Field Coordinator said the campaign anticipates deploying more than 2,000 paid staffers to every state in the country. Sending 15 paid staffers to Texas might make a good sound bite, but politically speaking, it is flushing money down the toilet.

A paid staff of 2,000 is unheard of in the history of presidential elections. Consider that it's five times larger than Bush's campaign staff in 2004, which is the next biggest ever assembled. Indeed, Obama will have more people working on his campaign than President Bush currently has in the whole White House. And if Obama spends like this when he needs to raise the money himself, one can only imagine what he'll do when he can instead tap the tax coffers of the U.S. Treasury.