Well, after Watergate, congress pushed through some sweeping election finance reforms. During the primary, each candidate takes federal matching funds, but is limited in their spending of their own money. However, once a candidate is nominated, they are limited in their spending to $75 million, and cannot spend a dime more. Thus once John Kerry is officially nominated by the DNC, he can only spend $75. The same goes for Bush. However, since the Republicans moved their convention to August, Bush won't be limited to $75 million until five weeks after that same restriction is placed upon Kerry.
Outrageous? Sounds as such. And with a warchest of over $200 million (and growing), Bush will have more than enough to quash Kerry in those five vital weeks. If Kerry were to try to merely match Bush's spending over those five weeks, then the day Bush is nominated, he will have more monay than Kerry 2:1. How is this fair campaigning?
The thought of putting off his acceptance of the nomination until the day Bush accepts his nomination was worthy of consideration. However, it would have been dirty enough to be worthy of being in the Republican Campaign Handbook. Republicans, always blind to their own misdeeds, blasted Kerry for playing with the law, and made him look like a cheater (the Republicans already having gotten away with their cheating). And Kerry, understandably, backed down. Any campaign stategist could have predicted that would happen, and it did.
So what does Kerry do now? He's got five weeks of vulnerability. He could just not spend anything for those weeks, but he'd get smothered by Bush. He could try to keep up with Bush, but then he'd be left high and dry right before the election. He could try to pace himself over those five weeks, only doing ads he needs to do, but he'd still be smothered by Bush. Either way, Kerry is screwed.
The only answer here is PACs. For a long time, PACs have been the Democrats' salvation. Although Republicans have fewer donors, each donation is huge. Bush received $142.3 million from donations over $200, while Kerry only received $52.7 million from donations over $200*. The difference is astounding. But that's why liberal PACs exist. They are there to balance out the playing field. And Kerry will have to try to somehow conduit money to PACs, or encourage individual donors to give to PACs. Because they are the only ones who will be able to carry Kerry's torch during those five weeks that Bush stole.