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. rick

    Isn't sticking to your word EXACTLY what a presidential candidate should be doing? Makes you wonder what else he might claim he didn't really say? I sure do "hope" that doesn't happen.

    February 15, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  2. SKS

    I think this whole issue is premature. Obama should be allowed to secure the Democratic nomination before looking at this issue. The last thing we Democrats need is for our nominee to commit to such a proposal before looking at it carefully. One concern is that even though the candidates agree to public financing, outsiders (like those who brought us the swiftboat ads against Kerry) will still be free to spend as much as they want to try to influence the election. If that happens, the public financing agreement will be in name only and may leave the candidate on the receiving end of such attacks without the readily available resources to respond effectively.

    February 15, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  3. Boogie

    hahahaha...now you'll start to see what we've been talking about the whole time...great preachers...love to talk...more than walk....lol

    February 15, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. Mike

    Obama...if you can't keep your word, how can we trust that you will bring change to our country.

    you are a big liar

    YES WE CANNOT !!!

    OR

    YES WE CAN IN A DREAM !!!

    February 15, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  5. Ken

    Ahhh, the [R] hypocrisy begins. Has John McCain opted for public financing? Of course not. Although John-boy is known as a maverick, he is falling right in line with his right-wing puppet-masters. Let the Swift-boating begin.... Anything but a battle of policies and ideas.

    And the last two elections show that the American people will fall for it every time. The [R] party takes you all for idiots, and you prove them right 9 times out of 10....even as they bend you over for the drudging you deserve.

    February 15, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  6. kwame

    BROTHER OBAMA, WHAT ARE YOU SAYING ON THIS? MR. HYPOCRITE,
    IF YOU ARE NOMINATED, I WILL VOTE REPUBLICAN THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE; THIS IS COMING FROM A BLACK GUY OF AFRICAN DESCENT LIKE OBAMA

    February 15, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  7. observer#1

    UH-oh! Everyone has wondered how long it would take Mac to rip Obama from the protective and loving arms of his "Care bears", guess you can say, "It's on."

    February 15, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  8. Marlene the Dream

    If McCain were so interested in the concept, why didn't he commit a year ago? Obama will keep his word – when it's given. Unlike the other candidates, he doesn't take commitments lightly. His opponents will throw anything out there to see if it sticks and he just doesn't play the same way. That's why voters are flocking to him, he's more genuine and thoughtful – and much more intelligent. We're just not accustomed to real people like Obama in American politics . . . it takes some getting used to.

    February 15, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  9. DY

    This is just the beginning to ALL the things the Republicans will demolish Obama with. I have and always will be a Hillary supporter, and after watching John McCain SLAM Obama, it is clear that HE WILL NOT HOLD HIS OWN IF he wins the Democratic nomination. The Republicans will rip him to shreds.

    Obama is VERY WEAK on debating and he has obviously has fooled ALL of his supporters!!! It is time to demand answers people! Obama has fooled you, and he now refuses to debate. Doesn't that sound odd? Doesn't that sound like BUSH?!!! Barack=Bush!

    Hillary is tested and approved. Everyone needs to just admit that she may not be the most "friendly" looking candidate, but she will RUN DOWN the GOP, no doubt!!! She is a definate fighter!

    February 15, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  10. Karen

    Mama alway told me if something sounds to good to be true it is! Don't morph into a Clinton now. You HAVE TO BE A MAN OF YOUR WORD. If you promised before the game started, to go the route of public finance for the general election, and now it doesn't suit you, well that's just tough. Momemtum, just like voters, can be just as quick to leave as it was to come.

    And really, would it be so tragic if the two of you only had $75M each to spend?

    February 15, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  11. Milt in Santa Barbara

    This is where we find out if Barack Obama is a man of his word ... or just a man of a lotta words. For once I'd like a president who can be trusted to do what he says.

    If Obama backs away from his commitment to accept public financing, then how can we trust anything else he says? If he honors his commitment, even though it negates his fundraising advantage, then we have reason to believe him when makes other promises.

    It'll be interesting.

    February 15, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  12. Libby

    How funny that there isnt nearly as much comments on this story as stories that slander Hillary, is it because people are afraid to attack Obama or CNN is afraid to POST attacks against. Oh no! Nothing bad can be posted about Saint Obama!

    February 15, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  13. RJB2

    I could be wrong but I do not think so.
    McCain will not beat Obama or Clinton.
    The Dems will be change over the Bush years.
    McCain is just the same as the Bush years.
    More of this endless war with vague goals and a un-winnable outcome meaning it needs a political solution... this will not be acceptable

    He has a snowballs chance in hell and best.

    February 15, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  14. dennis st. pete, florida

    if obama wins the nomination every body will vote republican

    February 15, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  15. SilverSpring

    McCain starts to attack Obama with all these non-sense. Everyone knows McCain has bad temper and it is going manifest any minute. Can you imagine him being the president. That really scares me.

    February 15, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  16. Dave

    It about time someone is challenging Obama to commit to anything!!!
    He has Wolf Blitzers lip prints all over his rearend.....

    February 15, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  17. AJ in SF

    Has Obama's campaign mentioned a word about not following through on this promise? I don't think it's fair to call the man a hypocrite unless & until that happens.

    February 15, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  18. Andrew Atteberry

    McCain is a hypocrite.

    In 99' he wouldn't overturn roe vs wade....now he thinks we should.

    Opposed the Bush tax cuts...then supported them.

    Opposed torture...but just he other day voted no against a plan that would essentially make water boarding illegal.

    This guy talks out of both sides of his mouth.

    February 15, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  19. Mike in Austin, Tx

    Yep sounds like someone wants to try to call out Obama now that he's played with the calculator a little bit and realizes it would significantly hurt him in the pocket to run against the well funded Obama campaign. Poor baby.

    While we're at it though, what is this a triple team against Obama?? Is there anyone else who wants to try to keep Obama out of the nomination seat as well? So far we have Hillary, Bill, and now McCain as well. The man hasn't even been nominated yet and you're trying to take pot shots.

    February 15, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  20. Don

    I think that Obama saying he is not a "detail guy" really says nothing about his judgement or the direction he wants the country to move. He has also said many times that he would listen to his advisors and not just have "yes men" on his staff. A presidents' job seems to me to be one of leadership. A CEO does not make all of the decisions in the trenches but OK's them and hires qualified people to hash out details. Ideologically Obama seems to be the best candidate for me and I believe for America.
    I also do not know the details of the public financing deal to decide on just how good of an idea it is. What would be considered public financing? It seems to me the only fair way to do such a thing would be to allocate the same amount of funds for each candidate. Otherwise "public financing" would become just another way to hide private donations.

    February 15, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  21. Brandon

    Obama is fighting a battle on two fronts right now...

    McCain has already christened Obama the Democratic nominee and is attacking him as such, while Hillary is still battling with him for the spot (and rightfully so).

    Because he is not commenting, McCain is accusing that Obama will go back on his promise.

    If he did make the commitment now, you know the Clinton machine would attack Obama for "being so arrogant as to already declare himself the winner."

    Keep your head up and don't let them drag you into the mud!!

    February 15, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  22. Waiting for Miracles

    Obama is a FLIPFLOPPER. He says different things depending what kind of audience he has, he's a PANDERER.

    Obama cannot be trusted.

    February 15, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  23. VA

    Mc Cain is asking Obama to make a statement as if he is the nominee...WOULD BE STUPID TO MAKE SUCH A STATEMENT AT THIS TIME. McCain is just trying to make waves..We all know the republicans want Hillary, as they can beat her. GO OBAMMMMMMAAAAA!!!!!

    February 15, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  24. MARYLOU JONES

    AH HA! OBAMA WAS THE ONE WHO INITIALLY CALLED ON ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNS TO SIGN ON TO HIS IDEA TO ONLY USE FEDERAL FUNDS AND NOW..............HE DOESN'T WANT TO PLAY ANYMORE. IS THIS A PRECURSOR OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ALL HIS OTHER PROMISES HE HAS MADE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?? MAYBE SO. AND HE HAS SUCH A SMOOTH WAY OF BACKING OUT OF THINGS. IT JUST SHOWS HIS INEXPERIENCE. HE PRETENDS TO BE THE "CHANGE" IN WASHINGTON POLITICS BUT IT LOOKS TO ME, HE HAS FALLEN RIGHT IN LOCK-STEP WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT. LEARNED TODAY THAT HE HAS GIVEN ALMOST $700,000.00 PAC MONEY TO "SUPER-DELEGATES" CAMPAIGNS!!! BUT, HE'S NOT PART OF THE ESTABLISHMENT IN WASHINGTON.....NO, NO, NO. I THINK OBAMA SUPPORTERS HAVE BEEN DUPED! VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT! SHE DOES WHAT SHE SAYS SHE'S GOING TO DO!!! HILLARY '08

    February 15, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  25. Daniel E. Liptrot

    I've been watching the presidential race between senator obama and
    senator clinton and it makes me very sad to think that we are so
    divided and against each other. first these two people should be encouraged to come together as a team either way and beat the
    republiccans and take back the white house. the commentaors on cnn
    and msnbc. should shut the hell up and stop lying to the american people!!! every time i turn on the news and it's all lies. like the bill clinton blow-up that was't a blow-up at all! You people are not helping
    us you are being bias and it's just not right. I saw chris matthews on
    msnbc making bets and it was so un-ethical to bet that someone will
    lose and then use your positon to sway the outcome! I think this is wrong. And as a result i do not watch his show any longer. Now, I see
    the same thing on cnn, . these lies and false inundos need to stop.

    February 15, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
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