With the immigration bill facing a showdown moment this morning in the Senate, the Supreme Court poised to end its term with a bang today, and Democrats prepping for a PBS debate at 9 pm ET in Washington, the 2008 race is being dominated by Edwards vs. Coulter -- which is just what the Edwards campaign wants.
So, to cut through the blather that marks the final days of the second-quarter money race, we offer these (mostly) spin-proof truths about the dash for cash:
- Former senator John Edwards, D-N.C., has raised his own expectations by squeezing every iota of sympathy -- at least the kind that can be turned into dollars -- out of Ann Coulter's not-quite attack. This will look either, A) inspired, or B) desperate, and the answer will depend on whether he tops $10-$12 million for the quarter (no matter how many times the campaign insists the real goal is $9 million, remember that he raised $14 million in the first quarter).
- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has this chance to show he has righted his campaign's course, or he may as well enjoy the dry heat of an Arizona summer; after today, he may not even have to worry about the immigration bill anymore. The Washington Post's Michael Shear reports that he's had to cancel fund-raisers to attend immigration votes -- what better symbol of his campaign woes?
- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., will both raise nutty amounts of cash this quarter -- we're talking A-Rod money here. But there will only be room in the headlines for the one who wins this arms race. And no matter how much the Clinton folks protest, if a first-term senator raises more than a former first lady, that will be a very, very big deal. (250,000 donors in six months? Wow.)
- Former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., can solidify front-runner's status with another record month. But unless that check he wrote this week was one really expensive head fake, that's not happening.
- And don't forget Rudy: Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, R-N.Y., has had a horrible run of news and is slipping in key state polls. This is the first full quarter for him to show he has built a campaign infrastructure to match his name recognition. He can't like this headline from the New York Post: "Rudy Losing Steam."
Yesterday brought a new e-mail request for "Coulter Cash," and Edwards told ABC News that he's confronting Coulter to end the "name-calling and hate-mongering," Jake Tapper and Avery Miller report. As for whether it's legitimate to criticize the campaign for raising money based on the controversy they are stoking, Elizabeth Edwards had this to say today on ABC's "Good Morning America:" "If we had been responsible for her being on the air, or being on the air at the end of the fund-raising quarter, it might be."
The Obama campaign is making a final play at molding expectations, telling the AP's Nedra Pickler that they're closing in on 250,000 total donors -- including a staggering 140,000 who have written their first checks this quarter. Pickler writes that a campaign official tried to "tamp down expectations" by saying that the average donation size is down from quarter one. Yet even a significant drop-off still puts him in the $30-$35 million range -- well more than the $25.7 million he raised in the first three months of the year. Guess those $5 win-a-date-with-Obama donations do bring down the average, but still . . .