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A revived John McCain arrives with wins -- and money

January 30, 2008 |  9:40 am

The satirical newspaper The Onion recently headlined a timely political story: "Depressed candidate runs attack ad about himself." Well, that's not Sen. John McCain now, who arrives in Los Angeles today fresh from his primary victories in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

McCain is here for tonight's Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library co-sponsored by The Times and streamed-live on this website.

But not only are McCain's political fortunes rejuvenated after a summer when he seemed near political death and flew alone back in the economy section of commercial flights.

His fortune's fortunes are rejuvenated as well. Aides say the McCain campaign has collected millions in donations as his wins have accumulated. Everybody likes a winner. This is actually not unusual. One source from the Barack Obama campaign told The Times campaign finance expert Dan Morain that the Illinois senator raised $500,000 in the first hour after the South Carolina polls closed for the Democratic primary last Saturday when Obama won an overwhelming 2:1 victory over Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney continues to pour considerable amounts of his considerable fortune into his campaign. Even after losing Florida on Tuesday to McCain, Romney could joke to hundreds of St. Petersburg supporters, while The Times Seema Mehta looked on: "All you guys are family. Don't expect to be part of the inheritance," he continued to laughter. "I'm not sure there's going to be much left after this."

McCain raised $37 million during all of calendar 2007, placing him a distant third among Republican candidates behind Rudy Giuliani in second and Romney, the top GOP money-getter and self-donor.

And at the end of the year, according to papers he's just filed with the Federal Election Commission, McCain had a debt of $4.5 million. Because he is taking matching federal funds, but they had yet to be disbursed, McCain's camp had to take out a nearly $3 million loan at about 8.5% interest in order to stay afloat, according to Morain.

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo: Daniel Barry / Bloomberg News