How alarming it would be to arrrive at your home in the Hamptons after the drive from Manhattan only to find a presidential candidate pop up from behind a well-groomed hedge and ask for a campaign check. Actually, that'd be hilarious. Less hilarious for many vacationers, however, are the fundraisers for candidates that have wiggled onto the summer social schedule as candidates and their chief supporters struggle to find every last dollar.
Leaving no clambake behind, the 2008 presidential contenders are booking time in at all the best vacation spots -- from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Martha's Vineyard -- to mix with the crowd capable of maxing out the donation limit. And the focus on bringing in money, rather than talking policy is irking a few of the invitees. Regarding one invite to an event for Hillary Clinton hosted by a supporter in Nantucket, Tina Loftin, chairman of the Democratic town committee said:
"There were people who called me and thought she was doing a free event because she was doing a town meeting," Loftin said. They were crestfallen, she said, when it became clear the "town hall" would cost $2,300.
"It's insulting to call [it] what should be the most inclusive, the town meeting, when it is really the most exclusive," Loftin said. "And you can quote me on that."
Everyone's in a tough spot: candidates need to raise the money, supporters want to help, and voters want to share some air with a candidate without having to reach for their checkbooks. No wonder so many presidential candidates are speaking more frequently to the need for public financing of elections (the recent Democratic debate in Iowa saw several more comments to that effect) which wouldn't hang a price tag around a handshake with the next President.
Remember, you can follow the trends in high-dollar presidential fundraising by geographic area and by candidate using this map provided by the FEC -- good insight on where candidates are spending their time, who they're hearing from the most, and what parts of the country are getting left out.