Sen. McCain woos yuppies

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEleventh Democratic presidential debate to be held in Phoenix Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock Biden on Graham's push for investigation: 'I don't know what happened' to him MORE (R-Ariz.) is restructuring his fundraising schedule to woo mid-level political donors in a round of fundraising that political analysts say could make or break his White House campaign.

One of the central elements of McCain’s strategy in the second quarter is to court young donors who, in addition to money, might inject a measure of youthful enthusiasm into his campaign.

Some inside-the-Beltway handicappers have observed that McCain, who follows an unrelenting schedule, at times looks tired on the campaign trail.

The senator frequently parries questions about his age; if victorious, he would be 72 when he took the oath of office for the first time, older than anyone before him.

His fundraisers will hold a conference call today to discuss the official launch of his New Hampshire campaign and to plan for a May 23 event in Washington, DC to which they hope to lure young professionals.

The event is slated to raise around $100,000 — modest in comparison to most presidential events, but intended to serve as a blueprint for others all over the country.

The strategy is modeled on similar programs used by Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills Senate votes to rein in Trump's power to attack Iran As many as eight GOP senators expected to vote to curb Trump's power to attack Iran MORE (R-S.D.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in 2004 and by former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in 2006.

It will yield two benefits, say McCain allies. It will tap mid-level donors who cannot afford to attend $1,000 or $2,000-per-person fundraisers but have more giving potential than donors targeted by direct mail solicitations, who tend to give $25-$100.

It will also mobilize supporters between the ages of 25 and 45, giving them fundraising and organizing roles, which McCain hopes will generate a youthful buzz about his candidacy, something that would help dispel questions about his own energy level.

What young supporters lack in disposable income they can make up for with active social networks and free time.
“We were not as happy with [our money] numbers as we could have been,” said a person intimately familiar with McCain’s fundraising operation. “We spent a lot of time trying to figure how to restructure the fundraising program. The goal of the [young professionals’] program to raise money in a community we feel can be very effective.”

Professionals who sign up to be fundraisers for the program are expected to raise $50,000 for the campaign.

“It’s really to stimulate some energy in the community,” said the operative. “Recruit, recruit, recruit and get people hyped.”

McCain’s campaign has already named people to chair the young professionals’ campaign effort in about 10 states including California, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Maryland and North Carolina. The goal is to expand the program, which started in February and is now accelerating, to all 50 states.  

A McCain aide said the program, dubbed YP4McCain in a nod to the popularity of acronyms among BlackBerry-wielding young professionals, “is very well organized and expanding very quickly.” 

McCain’s rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), has built a similar program.

“Any candidate would be wise to do that kind of thing. From that standpoint I think McCain is on track,” said Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, who was one of the first strategists to use a young professionals fundraising program in a federal race when he managed Thune’s 2004 upset of then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). “It’s a very successful program.”

Wadhams said Thune appealed to young professionals because he was 43 years old when he defeated Daschle.
“We were trying to take advantage of Thune’s youthful appearance,” he said, but added that McCain could be just as successful even though he is 24 years older than his Senate colleague.

McCain also plans to undertake an intense fundraising schedule over the next two and a half months. Between now and the end of June, his campaign will hold fundraisers in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina, said a McCain ally who is raising money for him. Fundraisers are also tentatively scheduled for Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mississippi.

This week alone the McCain campaign has scheduled fundraising events in Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire and South Carolina to accompany McCain’s official campaign launch tour through New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada.

“In South Carolina, a new poll by NewsChannel 15 and Zogby International, shows McCain leading the Republican field by a slim margin.”

A McCain aide said these events were planned before Republican candidates made public their fundraising totals for the first three months of this year. Romney led the pack by raising $23 million. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani raised nearly $15 million and McCain raised $13 million.

 Kirk Blalock, a partner at Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, is the national chairman of the young professionals’ program.
He said 300 to 400 people will attend the May 23 DC fundraiser at a cost of $75 per person.
“Our goal is to raise money and raise energy and enthusiasm for the campaign,” he said.