February 15th, 2008
07:30 PM ET
7 years ago

McCain challenges Obama to keep his word on public financing

Sen. McCain challenged his Senate colleague to take public financing.
Sen. McCain challenged his Senate colleague to take public financing.

OSHKOSH, Wisconsin (CNN) – Nearly a year after Barack Obama called on all of his potential general election foes to sign on to a public financing pact, likely GOP nominee John McCain accused the Illinois senator of having a change of heart sparked by his massive fundraising haul.

“It was very clear to me that Sen. Obama had agreed to having public financing of the general election campaign if I did the same thing,” said McCain at a Wisconsin campaign stop Friday. “I made the commitment to the American people that if I were the nominee of my party I would go the route of public financing, I expect Sen. Obama to keep his word to the American people as well.”

Under the agreement, both men would have to forgo private donations entirely in favor of a publicly-funded campaign.

At this point, McCain stands to gain the most from a public financing pledge – Obama has raised nearly three times as much in general election funds. Under the guidelines, both men would be required to return any money they had raised for that contest.

On Friday, Obama seemed to avoid committing to the agreement. "It would be presumptuous of me to start saying now that I'm locking myself into something when I don't even know if the other side is going to agree to it."

Last year, both Obama and his campaign promised to “aggressively pursue” such an agreement with their Republican counterpart. No major party candidate has opted out of the public financing system for the general election since it was created more than three decades ago.

McCain had decided to accept public financing of his primary season campaign last summer – but eventually opted out of the system before accepting funds because it would have limited the amount he would be allowed to spend to $54 million until the Republican Party’s nominating convention this summer.

That scenario promised to seriously handicap his effort if he were to become his party’s nominee and face a well-funded opponent with no spending limits.

–CNN’s Tasha Diakides, Chris Welch and Rebecca Sinderbrand


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. diane, ringgold, georgia

    there are far more important issues and much more serious promises to be made to the american people and KEPT. this is not an issue of any importance, and if that is all republicans can come with against democrats--------

    February 15, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  2. Independent-Latina-voter, Salt Lake City, UT

    Good, and Sen. Obama WILL keep his word!

    Obama 08! YES WE CAN!

    February 15, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  3. Hillaryboo

    McCain had decided to accept public financing of his primary season campaign last summer – but eventually opted out of the system before accepting funds because it would have limited the amount he would be allowed to spend to $54 million until the Republican Party’s nominating convention this summer.

    OH GEEZ HOW MANY TIMES WILL THIS GUY CHANGE HIS MIND!

    February 15, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  4. Daniel Stevens

    Folks, Obama is not a sucker. He's not going to commit to anything with out:
    A: actually being the nominee
    B: having a joint announcement and signing.

    Doing anything else would surely show he was politically ignorant. Doing what he is doing shows he is smart enough not to fall for a first shot sucker move. You don't do anything like this till after the actual nomination.

    February 15, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  5. Lucas, Nashville TN

    With the GOP it is always better to make sure their fingers are not crossed, THEN agree with them. They cannot be trusted, but Obama has much support from them, so I would hope for an honest and honorable handshake.

    No matter how you cut it, McCain will no-doubt adopt Hillary's desperate tactics toward the end and claim that Obama is not being straight. The old man will get desperate. Just wait.

    Couple that with all his Bush support and all bets are off anyway.

    At least with Obama, he'll shoot straight, and EDUCATED people with "the internets" will be able to uncover all the lies... like Bill and Hillary's novel of untruths thus far...

    February 15, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. U.S. Army Vet.

    To Dani:

    You could not be more unaware of what you are saying. Obama writes his own speeches, and candidate reads their own speeches from a teleprompter. It is called using modern technology. If you are a college graduate, you would know this.

    February 15, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. Bruce

    You know, through this whole campaign process it has sickened me the amount of money the candidates have raised and spent, especially Clinton and Obama. More so Obama for the mere fact that he has so oftentimes turned a "Hillary picked on me" moment into "let's show her, send me some money." Are these people truly able to afford to keep sending him money? One poster earlier commented "yippeee, it's payday, means I can send him (Obama) more money. " Times are tough, hopefully people are using common sense in what they can afford. I'm thinking public financing may be the best way to go.........otherwise, guess people can always send their surplus rebate checks to the candidates.

    February 15, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. Alfredo

    Obama flip flop on his decisions just to gain votes and support. Most of the Aftican American as well, 9 out of 10 voted for Obama including Mr. Lewis changing his vote from Hillary to Obama for political and covenience reasons. They also plan to meet about superdelegates just to favor Obama. Who is now being discriminated? It is Hillary...WAKE UP!!!

    February 15, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  9. A2MANI

    mwaha haha.. McCain is going bankcrupt in this campaign.. he wants everyone to fit "speed-governor" in their campaigns ..If you got money why cant you party ?

    ..it doesn't really matter if that style/rule has been there for 3 decades now, I just like Obama's responce "It would be presumptuous of me to start saying now that I'm locking myself into something when I don't even know if the other side is going to agree to it." – His Excellency the 44th President of United States of America, Barack H. Obama.

    ..OBAMA 08

    ..OBAMA 08

    February 15, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. Rich in Seattle

    Typical uninformed Hillary supporters who don't read the entire article. Before jumping on the side of the Republican maybe you should read the story and not just write about what you know nothing about.

    February 15, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  11. Got Experience?

    Okay everyone- a peek into the general election. Still time for serious thinking. Do we really think that Obama will be strong enough in the general election vs. McCain? I am seriously concerned that the big hype balloon will be slowly punctured and then come tumbling down leaving us with nothing. It will be McCain "straight talk" vs. Obama "wishful thinking" and- given the serious nature of our times-most people will probably tend toward pragmatic. It may not be fair,but it is realistic. In trying to please everyone and "unite" everyone,I feel that Obama isn't strong in his core policies (universal health care, education). We need strong democratic direction to win in 08.

    February 15, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  12. Francie

    Hillary has experience, integrity, and has always pushed for healthcare since the early days of Bill Clinton's presidency. Hillary wants to debate Obama in Wisconsin; however, Obama is not prepared as usual (no experience). Obama is not the best person for the job. Hillary for President and Obama for Vice President. Now that's a winning ticket. Obama should not be greedy wanting to be President at such an early stage of his life. Hillary for President for 8 years; Obama President for the following 8 years. We will have 16 years of a Democratic President.

    Hillary for President; Obama for Vice President in 08′ !

    February 15, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. Jim

    Why is McCain telling you whom the candidate is going to be? Last check the race has not been decided yet.

    February 15, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  14. v.ananthan

    I HOPE THAT OPRAH AND THE KENNEDYS CAN LOOK AFTER THEIR BOY WHEN HE IS FACING SOME HARD QUESTIONS........

    February 15, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  15. eddie

    These day I read the news network including FOXNEWS, ABC, MSNBC and CNN. I think that CNN is to much favor Obama. Now FOXNEWS and ABC are more objective than CNN now.

    February 15, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  16. Dani

    Janet, I don't support McCain. I am voting for Clinton in March here in Texas. I am a BIG Clinton fan. :) I just found the post on Obama really enlightening and wanted to share. Maybe I should have posted it under a different article. Oh well, it's shared anyway.

    February 15, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  17. Alfredo

    Bias to Aftican African has been overused and overrated. Look who is being bias now, them of course, including Mr. Lewis just to favor Obama. Thsi is outrageous and ridiculous, Mr. Lewis change votes and rules during election to favor Obama.....be fair to Hillary....WAKE UP, who is bias now!!!!

    February 15, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  18. Jen, Gainesville

    Obama is not the nominee yet. Why is McCain so impatient?

    February 15, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  19. Gerry

    Obama should also fire back at Clinton because she is using the rhetorical saying that states "ATTACK IS THE BEST DEFENCE"

    February 15, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  20. J. Georgino

    I would love to see Obama have to give Oprah's millions back. It is about time he is attacked as he has done to Sen Clinton. Pundits and reporters alike are tip-toeing about his campaign for fear of any racial remarks which is ridiculous and unfair, given the sexist remarks leveled at her.

    February 15, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. J. Matthews

    Since the potamic primaries, Obama is unstoppable. His message to the people is very relevant and inspiring. It might look like for some that he has no specific plans to navigate this nation. To me he looks very confident and brave to weather any situation that may beset in the future. I believe that he will not destabilize this country's economy and moral values.

    February 15, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. Eric

    People change their minds all the time. But one thing is clear: self-imposed financial constraints were intended to prevent candidates from getting a huge disadvantage from big backers. Obama gets his campaign dollars 25 dollars at a time from millions of ordinary Americans, not big-business fat cats trying to steer the outcome of an election to their pecuniary benefit. Obama should not feel compelled to forego the contributions of millions of everyday folks whose voices are drowned out by the lobbyists in Washington. Gimme a break!

    February 15, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  23. U.S. Army Vet.

    When it comes to being a hypocrite, McCain has shown himself to be that and much more. As for anyone who will vote republican or not vote at all, if someone Obama is nominated, please reconsider and vote for Obama.

    Hillary is an elitist and is seeking power to enrich herself. McCain is an honorable veteran, but too closed minded and knows, he admitted, nothing of economics. Senator Obama is the best candidate in the race for the presidency, and the best candidate to find all of the solutions for all of the problems we face today and in the future.

    February 15, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  24. Russell

    ahhh..knock knock...excuse me my fellow bloggers....he did not say he would or he wouldn't. Great strategy by Mc Cain though. unfortunately Barack is in a Jam on this... Let's see what the witty cape crusader does in this challenge.... Same Barach Time...Same Barach Channel!

    February 15, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  25. carlo

    John McCain, the same person who has "flip flopped" on "real" issues like the Bush tax cuts and amnesty, is in no position to call anyone's bluff to be "honest." I wonder how honest McCain is going to be when he tries to woo the Rush Limbaugh conservative base.

    February 15, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
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