Two Views Of Hamas

From the Palestinian Authority foreign minister visiting France:

Hamas is undergoing a massive transformation and is “ready to change,” the Palestinian Authority foreign minister said in an interview published in a French newspaper Monday.

Ziad Abu Amr, on a three-day visit to France, met Monday with French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy and was holding talks Tuesday with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin….

“I must admit I’m both surprised and impressed with the speed and the magnitude of Hamas’s transformation,” he is quoted as saying. He cited Hamas’s willingness to accept a future Palestinian state contained within territory Israel occupied in the Six Day War as an example of the movement’s ideological shift.

From Hamas itself:

Hamas said on Sunday that it is “fully prepared” to repel an Israeli military invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said in response to reports that Israel was planning a major operation in the Gaza Strip, “Hamas and the Palestinian people are fully prepared for the next battle with the Israeli enemy. Our response will be painful because our men are prepared for jihad and martyrdom. Hamas remains committed to jihad as a strategic option for liberating all of Palestine. This enemy understands only the language of force and we will teach them an unforgettable lesson.”

Believe who you choose to.

McCain Raises $12.5 Million

That’s a huge disappointment.

A McCain release (via Hotline) reads:

During the first quarter of 2007, John McCain 2008 campaign received nearly 60,000 contributions from all 50 states, averaging $200 per contribution. The McCain campaign will report over $12.5 million in contributions for the first quarter.

Campaign Manager Terry Nelson said, “Although we are pleased with the organization we’ve built and polls show us strongly positioned in key primary states, we had hoped to do better in first quarter fundraising. We are already in the process of taking the necessary steps to ensure fundraising success moving forward.” Nelson added, “Fundraising in the first quarter is no more important than fundraising throughout the entire primary election campaign.”

Reading Into The Numbers

For Mitt Romney, the impressive fundraising totals demonstrate why, even though he usually polls in the single digits, he’s included in the top tier of presidential contenders, rather than back at the rest of the pack with Brownback, Huckabee, etc. It reinforces an image of Romney as a businessman who can run an organization well and will provide him with the money to get his message out and improve his name recognition. For a man who is still unknown to many Americans, appearing as the top headline on Drudge as a Round 1 winner along with Hillary Clinton, is clearly a boost. The question that remains for the Romney campaign is whether all of this money and the added attention that comes along with it will translate into grassroots support and improved poll numbers, or if he’ll remain all hype. Also, I’m curious to learn more about the $2.35 million loan he made to the campaign, and to see his cash burn rate. (See more here).

For Rudy Giuliani, who got a late start and has been criticized for an organization that has lagged rivals, his showing was solid and demonstrates the allure of his star appeal and his ability to tap the New York market and other connections he made as mayor and running his business for the past 5 years. His cash on hand should allow him to put some meat on the bones of his organization. He showed momentum in March, and will have to carry that into the second quarter, as the media and opponents try to undo his post-9/11 image. He needs to show that his support is deep and he’s not just some flavor of the month.

The McCain campaign still has not released its numbers, so I don’t want to say too much until they come out, because there’s always the chance that they are managing expectations. However, in recent weeks, the McCain campaign has laid the groundwork for announcing weak numbers, and McCain himself told bloggers last week that he was “unhappy” with his fundraising performance. If it is a weak number, as is largely expected, it will reinforce the perception that McCain is washed up, and that his candidacy isn’t receiving any traction. The campaign has said it got a late start, which is kind of hard to believe given that it’s no secret he’s been running for years, and that we’ve read a lot about his organizational strength. If he did have a bad quarter, he’ll really have to step it up in Q2, because by then his campaign will be out of excuses.

Romney Raises $20.6 Million–Leads GOP Field

NOTE: I changed the headline from $23 million to $20.6 million to reflect the fact that Romney loaned his campaign $2.35 million.

Via Hotline.

UPDATE: The National Journal projection had been $19-$21 million, so this number is within that range.

UPDATE II:
More details from Hotline:

Romney for President raised $23 million in total receipts for the First Quarter ending March 31, 2007.

The Campaign opted to raise no general election funds and raised $20.63 million in primary contributions.

The total includes a $2.35 million loan from Governor Romney and a $20,000 transfer from his 1994 Senate campaign.

Contributions were received from all 50 States and Washington, D.C.

UPDATE III:

Via email, another campaign points out this AP story from January:

“Although A Multimillionaire, Romney Said That Contributing Any Of His Personal Wealth To The Campaign ‘Would Be Akin To A Nightmare’ Even Though He Reserved The Right To Do So Should Circumstances Warrant.” (Glen Johnson, “Romney Kicks Off Presidential Campaign With Fundraising Blitz,” The Associated Press, 1/9/07)

Meanwhile, a Romney staffer tells Politico: “That loan was made at the beginning of the the campaign’s exploratory phase to assist and fund startup operations involving hardware and initial staffing.”

So in other words, the loan would have been made in early January, around the same point at which Romney said self-funding “would be akin to a nightmare.” No doubt, the Romney team would argue that paying for startup costs was an example of circumstances warranting dipping into his own bank account.

Giuliani Reports $15 Million in Q1

Just received this email:

The Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee today reported more than $15 million in receipts for the primary during the first quarter. The Committee raised nearly $14 million in primary election funds with over $11 million cash on hand, the vast majority of which is primary money. More than $10 million in primary funds was raised in March alone, highlighting a very healthy fundraising pace.

Giuliani Campaign Manager Mike DuHaime said, “We are thrilled by the response to Mayor Giuliani’s optimistic vision, experienced leadership and proven record of results. Considering our late start, we are very pleased by the pace raised in March and see it as a positive indication of what’s to come.”

UPDATE: National Journal had projected $12-$15 million for Rudy, so this was at the high end of the forecast.

Siccing Judy

Last week, when Rudy Giuliani’s comments about allowing his wife into cabinet meetings first surfaced, I made the point that it was a huge blunder, because by making such a statement, he declared open season on her (his subsequent damage control won’t change this).

Today the NY Post‘s front page headline reads: “JUDI’S DOG DAYS,” and the story that follows details:

Judith Giuliani once demonstrated surgical products for a controversial medical-supply company that used dogs – which were later killed – in operations whose only purpose was to sell equipment to doctors, The Post has learned.

“It was a horribly cruel, outrageous program,” Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral said about the demonstrations of medical staplers on dogs conducted by U.S. Surgical Corp. employees during Giuliani’s tenure there in the late 1970s.

It may have been 30 years ago, and it may have nothing to do with what type of president Giuliani would be, or even what kind of first lady his wife would make, but it is only a sign of things to come. It may not be fair, but the media siccing of Judith Giuliani has begun.