Barack Obama Will Not Opt Into Public Financing System
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 05:13:09 AM EDT
There will be a lot to talk about with regards to this big and extremely important decision, but I first wanted to get it up as soon as possible: Barack Obama will not be participating in the public financing program during the general election.
This is important for a number of reasons:
- 50-state campaign: Because elections are expensive and not enough American taxpayers check the box to contribute to the public financing program, presidential campaigns tend to get waged in a dozen or fewer states. These swing states get the attention not only because they are competitive on a partisan sense but also because with $75 million or even $85 million to spend over two months, there just aren't enough resources to run all around the country. So as a result of this decision, Obama will be able to compete in significantly more states, seriously contesting not only the traditional swing states but also emerging ones like Virginia, North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska (or at least the eastern part of it for one to two electoral votes), Montana, and others -- states that the Republicans have been able to rely on in the past but will not be allowed to take for granted this year.
- Saying No to McCain's Shenanigans: John McCain opted into the public financing program during the primaries, received a material benefit (according to an FEC complaint filed by the Democratic National Committee), then unilaterally pulled out of the program without the agreement of the FEC when he thought it would suit him. By deciding not to opt into the public financing program in the general election, Obama is saying no to the type of cynical gamesmanship of campaign finance law that McCain has undertaken during this campaign.
- Calling McCain's Bluff: McCain was hoping to tie Obama's hands behind his back by forcing him to opt into the public financing program -- while McCain would still rely heavily on the RNC to finance his efforts. What's more, with the proliferation of 527 organizations willing to say anything and everything to tar Democrats, not the least of which Obama, had Obama opted into the program he would have been hampered in efforts to rightfully defend himself from smears. But Obama didn't fall for McCain's game -- he called the bluff, forcing McCain to show that his real priority in trying to force this election into the public financing program was not reform but rather ambition to be elected President.
Those are just my initial thoughts. What think you?
Read the whole script below the fold...
Hi, this is Barack Obama.
I have an important announcement and I wanted all of you - the people who built this movement from the bottom-up - to hear it first. We've made the decision not to participate in the public-financing system for the general election. This means we'll be forgoing more than $80 million in public funds during the final months of this election.
It's not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections. But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system. John McCain's campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. And we've already seen that he's not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.
From the very beginning of this campaign, I have asked my supporters to avoid that kind of unregulated activity and join us in building a new kind of politics - and you have. Instead of forcing us to rely on millions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs, you've fueled this campaign with donations of $5, $10, $20, whatever you can afford. And because you did, we've built a grassroots movement of over 1.5 million Americans. We've won the Democratic nomination by relying on ordinary people coming together to achieve extraordinary things.
You've already changed the way campaigns are funded because you know that's the only way we can truly change how Washington works. And that's the path we will continue in this general election. I'm asking you to try to do something that's never been done before. Declare our independence from a broken system, and run the type of campaign that reflects the grassroots values that have already changed our politics and brought us this far.
If we don't stand together, the broken system we have now, a system where special interests drown out the voices of the American people will continue to erode our politics and prevent the possibility of real change. That's why we must act. The stakes are higher than ever, and people are counting on us.
Every American who is desperate for a fair economy and affordable healthcare, who wants to bring our troops back from Iraq. Who hopes for a better education and future for his or her child, these people are relying on us. You and me. This is our moment and our country is depending on us. So join me, and declare your independence from this broken system and let's build the first general election campaign that's truly funded by the American people. With this decision this campaign is in your hands in a way that no campaign has ever been before. Now is the time to act. Thank you so much.