ABC News’ Cynthia McFadden and Rick Klein Report: Sen. John McCain’s wife, Cindy, is ruling out making personal financial contributions to her husband’s struggling campaign for president, saying that the she and her husband are committed to funding his race via small contributions from donors.
In an interview to air on ABC’s "Nightline" Tuesday night, Cindy McCain said they will not reconsider that decision, even though McCain, R-Ariz., is contemplating taking public financing to help keep his campaign afloat.
"I haven’t put any money into the campaign — my husband has never believed that we should do that," Mrs. McCain says. "He has always said, you know, ‘I run on my own merits, and if I cant convince the people that I’m the guy, we’re not going to do it by, you know we don’t need to do it by [self-funding the campaign.]‘ We need to convince everybody else that we’re the right family and he’s the right guy for this."
Asked if using personal funds would be like "trying to buy" the presidency, McCain responded: "Yeah. Yeah, we wouldn’t do that so it — we never have done it. We have a record in the history for that so it’s just part of [that.]"
Cindy McCain is the biggest stockholder and chairman of the board of Hensley & Co., one of the nation’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributors. Her fortune is the bulk of the estimated $25 million to $38 million that the couple is worth.
Federal law limits candidates’ spouses to contributing no more than $2,300 to campaigns — the same limit that applies to all other individuals. But by borrowing against shared assets, candidates can use their spouses’ wealth to provide considerably more help.
One of McCain’s rivals for the GOP nomination, former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., has already put in $17.5 million of his own money to fund his bid. McCain told the New York Times Magazine in July that while he wouldn’t criticize other candidates for spending their own money, he felt that getting small donations is "part of whether you can succeed or fail."
"I should be able to raise my own money from contributors or take matching funds according to the law, not dip into my wife’s assets," McCain said.
With McCain’s campaign carrying about as much debt as he has cash on hand, he is considering taking federal matching funds for his run. Such a decision, however, limits the money available to him in early-voting states.