Rich Galen

Current plans call for the [Iowa] caucuses to be held Monday, Jan. 14. The new Nevada caucuses come Saturday, Jan. 19, although no one seems to be paying much attention. New Hampshire's primary comes Tuesday, Jan. 22, followed by the South Carolina [and Florida] contests on Jan. 29.

Dozens of other states are planning primaries on Feb. 5, and it seems quite we will know who the two major-party nominees will be by the morning of Feb. 6.

What is not known - at least not to me - is the level of outstanding short- and long-term obligations that the McCain campaign will show on its July 15 report.

Every campaign has some debt. You don't pay your rent in advance, the telephone bills are paid sometime after the calls are made, charges to campaign credit cards are often made well before the monthly billing cycle is complete, and so on.

The true test of a campaign's financial condition is: Cash-on-hand plus planned fundraising minus on-going expenses and unpaid obligations.

I have no idea what will happen to the McCain campaign now. I suspect it will continue to drift downward, but that depends upon the release of the official filings for the second quarter on July 15.

If the McCain campaign's balance sheet shows that it is serious - or even modestly - under water then it is hard to see how the campaign can continue. What will continue is finger pointing and emails to reporters and Bloggers making certain everyone knows whose fault this wasn't.

Politics, as has been said before, ain't beanbag.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at