Obama Declines Public Financing, Blames McCain

Obama Declines Public Financing, Blames Republicans Reacting to news that, contrary to previous promises, Barack Obama has bowed out of the public financing system so that he can spend unlimited amounts of money (or, at least, as much as he can raise) in his general election battle with John McCain, Steven Taylor observes,

The calculus is pretty easy: does one think that the money one can raise will increase one’s chances to win more than the criticism one will take for breaking a previous pledge will decrease one’s chances to win?

Exactly right. And, given that he Obama could well raise more money than McCain and the Republican National Committee combined, it’s a pretty easy call to make.

Obama’s excuse for dropping out, however, does take a bit of gall: It’s McCain’s fault!

“In the past couple of weeks, our campaign counsels met and it was immediately clear that McCain’s campaign had no interest in the possibility of an agreement,” [Obama spokesman Bill] Burton said. “When asked about the RNC’s months of raising and spending for the general election, McCain’s campaign could only offer its expectation that the Obama campaign would probably, sooner or later, catch up. And shortly thereafter, Senator McCain signaled to the 527s that they were free to run wild, without objection.”

What signal was this, exactly? And is Obama going to stop surrogates from running sleazy commercials against McCain? If so, how?

Image via politricks

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Floyd says:

    Anybody see this coming?? come on speak up……
    “chirp-chirp”… “chirp-chirp”[lol]

  2. Bithead says:

    I said when McCacin first offered up McCain FInegold, AND when he first talked about tying himself to the monster he made, that he’d be a fool to do so because the Demorats NEVER would, regardless of the noises they made going in, and thus would any such person be committing electorial suicide.

    So, yeah, I called it.

  3. Hal says:


    To quote Roy: Bite it, whitey.

    Seriously, though. It’s enormously funny to hear people who are viscerally against campaign finance reform complain about Obama.

    Going to be a very interesting election. I’m sure that the Right’s 527’s will be angels and that it’ll be Obama throwing the first swiftboat out of the season.

  4. Steve Plunk says:

    Of course the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth were right.

    The anti-campaign finance reform people are merely pointing out the flip flop of Obama and the folly that is McCain-Feingold. It may seem funny to those who see everything as funny to the rest of us it seems sad and pathetic.

  5. Hal says:

    Well, as they say, get used to disappointment.

  6. Hal says:

    Got to agree with Josh Marshall

    Someone help me here. McCain is grandstanding on public financing when he is, as we speak, breaking the law by continuing to spend unlimited primary campaign money after opting in to public financing for the primary phase of the campaign? And then greenlighting the outside 527s to go after Obama only days ago? Something doesn’t compute.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Got to agree with Josh Marshall

    The “McCain accepted public financing” thing is a red herring. And what’s the evidence of “greenlighting 527s”?

    I have no problem whatsoever about Obama’s opting out of the system. The system is stupid. I merely note that there’s some small political cost to having pledged to do otherwise and then reneging.

  8. Hal says:

    The “McCain accepted public financing” thing is a red herring.

    Or a huge legal problem. Too bad we don’t have a ruling from the FEC on this – or, too convenient – depending on your POV.

  9. James Joyner says:

    Too bad we don’t have a ruling from the FEC on this – or, too convenient – depending on your POV.

    We don’t have an FEC, for all intent and purposes. But McCain merely got approved for public financing; he didn’t take a dime. It would be beyond absurd for that to be a violation.

    Ironic, given McCain’s silly position on campaign finance, but still silly.

  10. Hal says:

    it does appear as though he used the public financing as collateral on a loan, however, which according to the law is accepting public financing.

    So, whether he “took a dime” or not, it would seem as if he is breaking the law. That is why it is not a “red herring” and is instead a matter of extreme hypocrisy or actual law breaking. Not something trivial. I’d eager if the positions were reversed, there would be non stop calls for his arrest and imprisonment from the right wing noise machine.

  11. Grewgills says:

    In addition to helping secure a loan opting in to public financing also meant that McCain did not have to go to the trouble and expense of gathering signatures to be put on primary ballots. That is a benefit received from entering the system. He managed to game the system he set up for all the benefit he needed then, quite possibly illegally, avoid the restrictions that came with those benefits. Given his involvement in setting up the system, it is an issue that has gotten too little attention.

  12. Hal says:

    A good video by Josh Marshall which he points to as a nice run down on what McCain did, what the head of the FEC said (i.e. McCain did, in fact, accept public financing and couldn’t reneg on that) and what the general lay of the land is in this respect.