Next year, the party nominees will be eligible for checks of about $67.3 million, in exchange for a pledge not to raise or spend additional sums. Bush's phenomenal fund-raising success could allow him to spend more in private contributions than he would get from the U.S. Treasury.
"It's certainly an option, and they don't have to foreclose it," said Jan Baran, a Washington lawyer who specializes in campaign finance. "It would be unprecedented."
FOR THE RECORD - An article about campaign money in yesterday's editions of The Sun misidentified the acting president of Common Cause. He is Donald J. Simon.
The Sun regrets the error.
Bush has not indicated whether he plans to pursue that option. Nor has he expressed a philosophical objection to accepting taxpayer money.
But he took a step in that direction yesterday, warning that he might be facing a Democratic opponent in Gore who would "travel around the country handing out expensive promises at government expense."
"I plan to wage a primary campaign using funds from people who support my campaign," he said.
Gore spokesman Roger Salazar said the vice president would accept matching funds and insisted that the campaign is achieving its fund-raising goals.
"We're where we need to be," said Salazar, adding that Gore had spent heavily in the first half of the year to build up his organization.
National polls show Gore with a hefty lead.
But in New Hampshire, the first primary state, where Bradley has concentrated his efforts, Gore's advantage is eroding.
A statewide survey released yesterday showed Bradley pulling to within 16 percentage points of Gore among Democratic voters. Five months ago, Gore's margin over Bradley was 40 points in the same poll.
Pub Date: 7/16/99