How George W. Bush Pinches His Pennies

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Rival campaigns laughed when George W. Bush's campaign paid $43,500 in a silent auction to rent prime space at next month's Iowa straw poll. "They took the bait," chuckled an adviser to Lamar Alexander. But Bush is laughing now. Rather than dip into his campaign chest, he had six donors cover the tab. Too clever, says Steve Forbes' team, which charges that the end run is a violation of campaign laws that prohibit individuals from giving more than $1,000 to a candidate. The Bush folks say that since the money went to the Iowa Republican Party, they broke no rules. Perhaps that kind of fiscal ingenuity is why Bush has spent only a fifth of the $37 million he has raised and why he announced he would forgo nearly $17 million in matching federal funds in exchange for not being held to campaign spending limits.

Al Gore has already spent 42 percent of his purse on a busload of consultants and events like a do at Manhattan's Pierre Hotel that cost $7,500. Said Bush strategist Karl Rove: "We are the cost-conscious campaign."