From NBC's Mark Murray and Andrew Merten
The music that played right before the McCain campaign's conference call began -- "Just Once" by James Ingram and Quincy Jones -- should have tipped us off that the campaign would be delivering bad news on the call. The song starts, "I did my best/But I guess my best wasn't good enough/'Cause here we are back where we were before." And the chorus goes: "Just once/Can't we figure out what we keep doing wrong/Why we never last for very long/What are we doing wrong/Just once can't we find a way to finally make it right."
Once the call started, the McCain campaign announced that it raised just $11.2 million in the second quarter, down from the already-disappointing $13 million-plus it raised in the first quarter. Perhaps more shockingly, the campaign said that it has just $2 million in the bank, a figure that has forced the campaign to undergo layoffs and restructuring.
In the conference call, the McCain campaign attributed its less-than-impressive fundraising haul on a poor political environment for Republicans -- as well as a poor environment individually for McCain, especially given his advocacy for the recently defeated Senate immigration bill.
Campaign manager Terry Nelson said McCain has fought for change his entire Senate career (examples: campaign finance reform, earmark reform). These things will make McCain an excellent president, Nelson said. "But it sometimes makes fundraising more challenging." Nelson also cited the immigration debate. "It also affected the campaign's ability to raise money."
The campaign also announced that it is "seriously considering" accepting federal matching funds, which would help it accrue additional resources. In 2005 and 2006, the campaign was sending signals that it wouldn't accept matching funds -- which would allow it to raise and spend money without restrictions.
But fundraising isn't the McCain campaign's only problem; so is spending. In addition to reporting that the campaign raised just $11.2 million in the second quarter, it also reported that the campaign has just $2 million in the bank (cash on hand) -- a strikingly low figure given McCain's once GOP front-runner status.
With that amount of money left in the bank, the McCain camp also confirmed layoffs and restructuring on the conference call. It wouldn't reveal the specific number of job cuts, but it said they occurred in each department and across the board. Nelson also said that he would be working for free from here on out, and that other senior staff members were taking pay cuts.