McCain in SF for fundraiser


/*McCain*/ is about 25 points behind Sen. /*Barack Obama*/ among California voters.

But this is a money race and there is still plenty of gold in the hills of San Francisco. Republicans who maxed out their donations on Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney are now writing checks to McCain.

About 300 people attended Monday's reception at the Fairmont Hotel, but the bigger money will have come from the 80 people invited to stay for dinner with McCain.

Outside, about 150 people protested McCain's visit. The California Democratic Party sent out e-mails that encouraged voters to come to the location and quiz passers-by about the similarities between McCain and George W. Bush.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin was there, as were members of the county's Democratic committee.

Earlier Monday, McCain was in Bakersfield, where he talked about domestic oil drilling and picked up some more cash.

Next to an oil well, McCain told reporters the U.S. needs a comprehensive energy plan.

"We all know a comprehensive solution is wind, tide, solar - all of the things that all of us believe in, but it also means offshore drilling," McCain said.

Last month, McCain have a speech in support of lifting the ban on offshore drilling. After that speech oil and gas executives opened their wallets for his campaign. Contributions form the oil and gas industry topped $1 million, compared with a couple of hundred thousand from the previous month.

ABC7's political analyst Bruce Cain said normally, that kind of support would not carry a downside for a Republican candidate, but McCain is different.

"When you're John McCain and you're trying to have crossover appeal and one of your key crossover appeal points is that you're a campaign finance reformer, I think it somewhat damages your image," Cain said.

Republican strategist and Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen said the larger issue for the McCain campaign is developing an economic message. McCain is spending a lot of time going after Obama, which he needs to do, but it is not enough, he said.

Also potentially damaging to the presumptive Republican nominee were the new deficit numbers released Monday by the Bush administration. The new numbers show a record amount of debt, $483 billion for 2008, surpassing the old record of $413 billion, set in 2004.

The numbers are going to put pressure on both candidates.

"Both of them are going to be under pressure to explain how they're going to accomplish what they want to accomplish given the size of this year's deficit and the size of the debt overall," Cain said.

Cain said both McCain and Obama will be pushed in the debates to explain a great deal about how they will deal with the rising debt and the slumping economy.

"If I were preparing the candidates, I would make sure they had some sort of answer to the larger strategic question of how they're going to do some of their initiatives and at the same time put the debt down," Cain said.

McCain is still trailing Obama in the latest polls, but the gap is only single digits. And as long as McCain stays competitive in the polls, the money will continue to flow at fundraisers like the one he attended tonight.

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