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Bad News For McCain, Thompson

Blake reported both of these items in today's Daily 2008, but I thought they deserved another spotlight.

Coming off a fundraising quarter after which his campaign found itself deep in debt, after months of staff departures and after losing prominent supporters, most recently Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, Senator John McCain thought he'd turned a corner. His recent "No Surrender" tour won him good press in three early primary states, while his poll numbers have recently begun ticking up.

The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow, though, reports today that McCain's money woes are still a major concern. The campaign set a goal of $4.5 million for this quarter, though one confidante says McCain has raised just $3.7 million so far. After a good month of press, the last thing McCain needs is a new round of stories questioning his campaign's ability to continue.

One-time McCain supporter Fred Thompson, who was once seen as the savior of conservatives, isn't getting any better news of late. Evangelical Christian leader James Dobson, in an email message to friends, said he could not support the former Tennessee Senator, according to the AP.

"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, ... favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" Dobson asked. "He is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"

The mention of campaign finance reform underscores a point one conservative strategist brought up in a conversation with Politics Nation when he referred to the "McCain-Feingold-Thompson" bill.

McCain and Thompson will have a better day tomorrow, when the two candidates go before the National Rifle Association's confab in Washington. Both have a long record of support for gun rights, while other front-runners Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney will face tougher questions on their records.

The four front-runners' continued misfortune and lack of complete alignment with conservative orthodoxy is the reason Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback are sticking around. A nod from someone like Dobson could provide the kind of boost that helps one of them gain some traction.