President Barack Obama on Thursday claimed he was outspent in his 2004 Senate election race, even though he had almost six times as much money as his opponent. Later in the day, Obama claimed “we were outspent” in the 2008 presidential race, despite out-raising all other candidates.
“I got outspent when I ran [the] first time for Senate,” he claimed as he was ending his heated campaign-trail speech in Maumee, Ohio.
Obama was misleading.
The Federal Election Committee’s website shows that Obama’s campaign claimed $14,807,432 in donations by December 2004.
In contrast, his opponent, Alan Keyes, had only $2,545,325, according to the FEC.
That’s a six-fold advantage for Obama, not a deficit.
The imbalance in funding was the largest in that year’s Senate races, according to a 2006 book, “In The Election After Reform: Money, Politics, and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.”
The imbalance was much greater than the 2004 Kentucky race, where the GOP candidate had twice as much money as the Democrat, or the Georgia race, where the GOP candidate had almost three times as much money as the Democrat.
Early in the 2004 Democratic primary race, Obama was outspent by a self-funded investor, Blair Hull. But Hull quickly lost his leading place in the Chicago-dominated race amid well-publicized claims of spousal abuse and a nasty divorce. The bad press offset his $28.8 million war chest, while Obama had $9.8 million in donations to use against several other rivals, according to FEC data.
Obama’s bank-balance was far greater than the $5.9 million raised by his next closest Democratic rival, Daniel Hynes.
In a second speech June 5, Obama compounded his misleading claim by declaring that he was outspent in the 2008 presidential race.
“The thing that I want everybody here to understand — each of you personally — is that back in 2008, everybody said we couldn’t do it because we were outspent,” he said during a 4.12 p.m. speech in Sandusky, Ohio.
Obama did not correct the claim, although he immediately revised it, by adding that “we weren’t favored.”
During the 2008 race, Obama raised $779 million. His GOP rival, Sen. John McCain, raised less than half as much, or $347 million.
In the Democratic primary, Obama raised $237 million, while his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, raised $229 million.
Obama’s misleading messages may have been caused by his heated delivery of his campaign-trail speeches, which were applauded numerous times by supporters.
His claims were delivered near the end of his speeches as he was warning his supporters about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s TV-advertising.
He then urged his supporters and to rally and vote in November. “Nothing can stop you. Nothing can stop you, Maumee. (Applause.) Nothing can stop you, Ohio. Nothing can stop us, America. (Applause.) Let’s remind the world just why it is we live in the greatest nation on Earth,” he said, according to the official transcript of the first speech.
Also, Obama’s misleading message at the first speech may have stemmed from his extraordinary success in fundraising. Since 1996, he has raised more than a billion dollars. He may underestimate his 2004 funding because of the huge funding he later raised for 2008 and 2012 races.
Additionally, as president, Obama has presided over $5 trillion in deficit spending that has boosted the national debt to $16 trillion. Compared to those sums, his $14 million expenditure during the 2004 Senate race is small.
During his Maumee speech, Obama also made other debatable claims.
For example, he claimed the 2008 economic crash was caused a lack of regulation, even though it was largely caused by skewed federal regulations that were boosted and exploited by Obama and his political allies.
“The lack of regulation on Wall Street, the kind of thing that [GOP is] prescribing, that’s exactly what allowed people to game the system that caused this whole mess in the first place,” he claimed.