Sarah Palin draws millions in Republican donations following vice-presidential nomination

September 16, 2008

Source: News Minor

WASHINGTON — Gov. Sarah Palin’s presence on the Republican vice-presidential ticket has energized the party’s base and helped John McCain raise $47 million in August, a personal best for the Arizona senator.

The McCain campaign said it saw an immediate increase in contributions after the 44-year-old governor was introduced at the national Republican convention two weeks ago.

McCain’s campaign coffers were flooded with $10 million in the three days right after he selected Palin.

“When Gov. Palin was announced as McCain’s vice-presidential pick there was an incredible up-tick of support,” said Rick Gorko, McCain campaign spokesman.

Overall, contributions have increased fourfold since Palin joined the ticket, the McCain campaign said.

“The surge in volunteers and supporters that we’ve seen is mirrored in our contributions,” said Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the McCain campaign.

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama raised $66 million in August — also a personal best — with the help of 500,000 first-time donors, according to his campaign. Obama now has $77 million cash on hand.

Democrats said the fundraising total speaks to the support for Obama among voters, especially given the buzz surrounding Palin that has eclipsed coverage of both presidential candidates.

“The 500,000 new donors to the Obama campaign demonstrate just how strongly the American people are looking to kick the special interests out and change Washington,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in a statement.

Most post-convention polls show McCain catching or in some cases pulling ahead of Obama since he selected Palin as his running mate.

“She’s energized Republicans in a grassroots way and energized Republicans in a financial aspect as well,” Gorko said.

While Obama out-raised McCain by nearly $20 million, McCain also will receive $84 million in federal matching funds.

Accepting public financing means McCain will have to limit how much he spends on his campaign. But the Republican National Committee is under no such restraints and can spend freely on McCain’s behalf.

With $76 million in savings, the RNC has far more money in its campaign war chest — nearly four times as much — than the Democratic National Committee to spend on the presidential contest.

Palin’s popularity with conservative Christians has sparked a resurgence of interest in the election among a segment of the party McCain had previously failed to reach.

Many Republican activists feared religious conservatives would stay home in November, unmotivated by McCain’s perceived moderate stances on social issues. But Palin’s anti-abortion, pro-gun beliefs have played well in the middle of the country, especially with evangelical Christians.

“She brought a definite spark and she’s really galvanized Americans across the country,” Gorko said. “Based on her 80 percent approval rating in Alaska, we are hopeful she’ll attract similar numbers across the country.”

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