Editorials: The Business of Ending a Presidential Campaign | Businessweek

Hours after dropping out of the presidential race this month, Rick Santorum fired off an e-mail to supporters asking for “one more” contribution: “I am planning to do everything in my power to bring a change about in the White House,” he wrote. “But our campaign has debt, and I cannot be free to focus on helping defeat [Barack Obama] with this burden.” Santorum maintains his campaign is less than $1 million in debt, and his adviser John Brabender says, “We feel good that in short order we’ll be able to wrap things up.” Yet if history is any indication, the candidate may be living with the financial legacy of his failed candidacy for a long time. Running for president is exhausting and all-consuming. Putting an end to a presidential campaign can be a nightmare that lasts years. There are employees, consultants, lawyers, and ad makers clamoring to be paid, ad buys to cancel, contracts and legal disputes to settle, office space, computers, phones, and furniture around the country to unload, and a staggering pile of disclosure forms and other paperwork to complete before the Federal Election Commission will certify that a campaign is officially over. “I would often say to people: Imagine starting a $100 million business from zero, building it up, running it, and then bringing it back down to zero all within nine months or a year’s time,” says Joe Stoltz, the FEC’s former director of auditing. “You don’t see many businesses come and go that quickly. It’s not easy.”

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