WHEN LAMAR ALEXANDER'S PRESS AIDES IN NASHVILLE saw news reports that California Governor Pete Wilson was dropping out of the presidential race, the order went out: call the money guys on the coast. At Bob Dole campaign headquarters in Washington, press aides dashed over to their fund-raising office. But by the time they got there, they found their colleagues already poring over lists of rich Republican donors from Los Angeles to Sacramento. Barely looking up from her computer printouts, one of the fund raisers responded simply, "Yeah, we know," and went back to work.

If money is the milk of politics,...

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