Dr. Dean is likely to drop out of the public financing system. The reason is that Bush is going to have $200 million+ to use in the primaries, even though he has no opponent. Meanwhile the Democrats are all going to use up all of their money working to get the nomination. If they stay in the public financing system they are not allowed to spend any more money until after the convention in August.
This means that Bush will be running $200 million of nasty, negative ads between May and August, while any Democratic nominee who chooses to stay in the public financing system is not allowed to respond in any way.
Dean will get the nomination — I think that’s a given at this point. He is far ahead of the other candidates in all the states that matter, and he has a huge base of supporters and contributors, while the other candidates do not, and are depending on party insiders to get them through. And they’re hanging around in case something changes — Dean says something stupid or who knows what.
If Dean drops out of the public financing system he will be able to ask his base of supporters for the money to respond to Bush. He will easily have 2 million+ donors by then. He is going to ask each donor for $100, bringing him $200 million with which to respond.
Now, you can’t even imagine Kerry or Edwards or even Clark being able to round up enough supporters to raise that kind of money. And, frankly, I also can’t imagine Kerry or Edwards fighting back. Clark, yes. But he is not running the kind of campaign that is bringing in the numbers of active supporters.
So I support Dean leaving the public financing system.