The one candidate who might actually turn his money problems to his advantage is McCain. He's always run better as an outsider and an underdog. By necessity he's now had to fire many of the consultants that surrounded him when he was the front-runner. But this may allow him to be himself -- iconoclastic, sometimes cantankerous, but always honest.
And honesty pays in politics. People will vote for someone they may not entirely agree with before they'll vote for someone they think will say anything to please them. Ronald Reagan understood this better than any politician of our era, which is why he won over so many Democrats who might have disagreed with him on a host of specific issues.
In the final analysis, the election won't be decided by money, no matter who's raising it faster. The war in Iraq, the fear of terrorism here at home, the economy, frustration with both parties' ability to get anything done, a loss of confidence in government, and other issues as yet unforeseen will determine what drives voters to the polls. And when they cast their votes, most people will be making a judgment call that the candidate they're voting for has the character and skills to make a difference, not which candidate amassed the most money.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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