A tough economy weighs on campaign finances

Republican Tim Pawlenty speaks after being elected governor of Minnesota, replacing Jesse Ventura in 2002.

JEREMY HOBSON: Well now to the republicans who would like to take President Obama's job -- the field of candidates will increase by one today as former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty formally announced his candidacy in Iowa. Candidates plan on raising record amounts of cash for the 2012 Presidential Campaign in spite of the tough economy.

For more on the money race, we're joined live by our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale. Good morning John.

JOHN DIMSDALE: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well how much tougher will it be to raise campaign money in this economy?

DIMSDALE: Well, it's a much different economic environment environment than four years ago. Remember, back in 2008, it was just before the financial crisis.

HOBSON: Right.

DIMSDALE: Back then, President Obama raised a record $750 million to win the presidency. And much of that came from small donations -- $200 or less. Now this time he's expecting to raise $1 billion but not as much from individuals. More from corporations and wealthier donors. And I think that reflects higher unemployment, the middle class continues to struggle. But you know we have strong bottom lines from corporations, and don't forget there's that Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited contributions to political action committees, which means bigger participation from them in the 2012 campaign.

HOBSON: And John, we get Tim Pawlenty in to the race today. And even as the list of candidates is firming up there are some on the Republican side talking about maybe there'll be a late entry later this year. But if we are, as you say talking about a billion dollar campaign, would a late entry be able to raise enough money to compete?

DIMSDALE: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's probably the biggest challenge, especially for late comers. The sheer number of candidates and potential candidates from Congresswoman Congresswoman Michelle Bachman to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- you know they're dividing up the available campaign cash. And that's a big hurdle.

HOBSON: Marketplace's John Dimsdale in Washington, thanks John.

DIMSDALE: Thanks Jeremy.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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