Edwards Eligible for Public Funds
Democrat John Edwards is now officially eligible to receive public matching funds for his presidential campaign, a milestone that could impact the race for caucus voters as the Jan. 3 Iowa contest approaches.
On the upside for Edwards, qualifying for federal funds could enable him to get a quick infusion of money -- enough to help him better compete with better-funded rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The maximum available to a candidate this year would be about $21 million. Technically, the money will become available in January, but typically candidates taking federal funds have taken out loans in the amount they will be due.
The downside for Edwards will be the spending caps imposed in exchange for taking the funds. For example, the most he will be permitted to spend in Iowa will be about $1.5 million. He spent more than $1.3 million there during the first nine months of the year. After the recent television buy he made there -- estimated by one rival to be upwards of $800,000 -- it would seem he close to hitting the ceiling, if not shattering it.
But the numbers are more complicated than that. All sorts of expenditures don't apply to the caps, including money spent on fundraising. If a portion of a circulating television ad is seen in neighboring states, a percentage of the buy is sliced out of the total as well.
"We're very comfortable that with the caps, the money we have available will allow us to wage a very aggressive campaign on TV, in the mail, and on the ground in Iowa," said Jonathan Prince, Edwards' deputy campaign manager. "We're taking every step to make sure we're totally compliant with all the rules."
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