Election 2008

Jeff Chiu/AP
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, shakes hands with
Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, before
speaking at the National Rifle Association of America annual meeting Friday, May 16,
2008, in Louisville, Ky. (AP)

Interest Groups’ Budgets Commanding Attention During Campaign

July 04, 2008 06:01 AM
by Josh Katz
The NRA is spending millions to make its voice heard in the presidential election, but it is hardly the only interest group exerting financial influence.

30-Second Summary

Last week’s landmark Supreme Court decision striking down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban was lauded by the National Rifle Association. The organization also paid careful attention to the presidential candidates’ responses to the ruling.

Ariz. Sen. John McCain was quick to commend the decision, while Ill. Sen. Barack Obama tried to avoid the topic. Like many Democrats before him, Obama understands the influence of the NRA, and would rather elude confrontation with the group on gun issues.

The NRA plans to spend $40 million on the 2008 election, most likely to the benefit of McCain. In fact, $15 million of that money will go toward “portraying Barack Obama as a threat” to gun rights, according to Politico.

However, $40 million is not an overwhelming sum in the special-interest arena. For example, the nation’s largest union, the AFL-CIO, has about $200 million in its coffers. The union endorsed Barack Obama last week. U.S. labor unions are expected to put $300 million toward the election.

McCain and Obama have also sparred over America’s future energy policy. McCain has pushed to remove bans on oil drilling, expand nuclear power and pursue clean-coal technology, while Obama has been a strong proponent of ethanol subsidies, for example. Interest groups have bombarded both candidates, but McCain’s campaign asserts that he “ignores the pleas of special interests” by exploring so many different solutions, according to Bloomberg.com.

The debate over the influence of special interest groups took another turn at the end of June when Obama turned back on his earlier pledge and declined the use public financing.

Headline Links: ‘NRA plans $40M fall blitz targeting Obama’

Background: Supreme Court rules on gun law; Obama declines public financing

Related Topics: The energy question

Reference: Following the money


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