Obama May Accept Public Financing Limits
John McCain is trying to publicly shame Barack Obama into accepting federal fundraising limits in the fall campaign — and Obama is indicating that he might.
Hammering Senator Barack Obama for a fourth straight day, Senator John McCain said here on Friday that he expects Senator Obama to abide by his pledge use public financing for his general election if Mr. McCain does so as well. “It was very clear to me that Senator Obama had agreed to having public financing of the general election campaign if I did the same thing,” he said after a town hall meeting [in Oshkosh, Wisconsin]. “I made the commitment to the American people that if I was the nominee of my party, I would go the route of public financing. I expect Senator Obama to keep his word to the American people as well.”
Asked if he would use public financing even if Mr. Obama did not, he said: “If Senator Obama goes back on his commitment to the American people, then obviously we have to rethink our position. Our whole agreement was we would take public financing if he made that commitment as well. And he signed a piece of paper, I’m told, that made that commitment.”
Mr. Obama did not rule out the possibility of accepting public financing, but declared on Friday, “I’m not the nominee yet.” “If I am the nominee, I will make sure our people talk to John McCain’s people to find out if we are willing to abide by the same rules and regulations with respect to the general election going forward,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a news conference in Milwaukee. “It would be presumptuous of me to start saying now that I am locking into something when I don’t even know if the other side will agree to it.”
Last year, Mr. Obama sought an advisory ruling with the Federal Election Commission to see whether the campaign could opt out of public financing in the primary and accept it in the general election. It was merely an inquiry, he said, not a pledge to accept the financing.
If he wins the Democratic nominating fight with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama said, “my folks will sit down and see if we can arrive at a common set of ground rules.”
Here’s the deal: McCain is pushing this because McCain knows that going into the fall the Democrats will pound the GOP into the sand on fundraising. More Democrats are voting and caucusing, more Democrats are volunteering, more Democrats are excited about their
For the first time ever, the Democratic party is outraising the Republican party. The party and its candidate will have the resources to compete on a huge playing field, not just shoring up its blue state base and courting voters in swing states, but there will also be the ability to truly compete in those red states the GOP is holding on to by a thread.
It’s incredibly clever of McCain to take this stance. If Obama accepts, it would seemingly level the fundraising playing field, taking away what would appear to be a huge advantage. If he doesn’t, McCain can hammer the Democrats for hypocrisy and being beholden to special interests — while simultaneously claiming that he’s being “forced” to do the same in order to compete.
Then again, if Obama is the nominee, he would enter the general election race as the favorite. It may well be that limiting the amount of money that can be spent — any major party nominee could raise more than $85 million if need be — would be to his advantage. The more the contest depends on free media like debates and the less it depends on television attack ads, the better for Obama, I’d think.
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