February 15th, 2008
07:30 PM ET
6 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. Maria

    Janet-

    They all agreed to public financing in the GENERAL; McCain opted the public financing in the PRIMARIES and then changed his mind. He is criticizing Obama for hinting at the fact that he may not want to do public financing in the GENERAL. Ergo, Obama's not as godly as the rest.

    February 15, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  2. Jaime

    Well, it seems that we are getting the first taste of what an Obama presidency woud look like; probably nothing like anything that he has promised so far on the campaign trail.

    He really needs to be honest and straight with the American people; it doesn't seem that he will escape from being another Washington politician; Mccain is looking to be more progressive and reformist than he is, at least at the moment.

    February 15, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Obama Supporter

    The man has to leave his options open. He is not gonna take any and does not need any! Today I raised $175.00 in one hour for his cause.

    February 15, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  4. djw

    Let the man speak first before you go and try to answer for him or think for him. Obama has the right to speak first.

    McCain just wants his options so please give it too him stop whinning McCain!!!

    February 15, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  5. Mary

    Hillary has been eliminated from the equation by news organizations such as CNN. Once again, women take a back seat as males promote males to keep their dominance firmly in check. Obama, to me, seems like a master opportunist. It will be Hillary – when Texas, Ohio and Pennyslvania vote for the real deal, not some evangelist

    February 15, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  6. Disclaimer

    Dani–he is not encouraging any American to go without health insurance. He is actually encouraging those poorer Americans to invest in health insurance by making it affordable for them and their children. Just because he is not the candidate you support, please do not distort the truth. I can tell the type of candidate you would vote for

    February 15, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  7. everistus etafo

    i watched sen. mccain on cnn interview yestaday and i was really sad !that if this gentleman wins the president position it would be like going back to the past and he was a bore and could not really answer the questions asked properly .people close to him made it clear not to be negative of obama because that was and is not the goal so now he is talking about something that is already water under the bridge as if these are the real problems that america cares about.wow! america has moved on!word to the wise you.

    February 15, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  8. D

    Funny that the above people didnt read next to last paragraph of that story.

    "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."

    So basically grandpa McCain just did a McFlop.

    February 15, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  9. Oracio

    As I read it "tMcCain 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."
    Maybe Obama faced the same problem when he started his campaign.

    February 15, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  10. Hema Rao

    So Obama funds super delegates? Is this not the same old Washington politics? I think he is saying anything to win – something he accuses Clinton of. Shame on him.

    February 15, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  11. Mike S., New Orleans

    Obama should tell McCain "I don't work for you." McCain's advisors (Rove, Cheney, etc....) are obviously coaching him to be the Alpha dog and get Obama to submit to McCain in front of the country.

    The only problem is the Alpha Dog is a senile, washed up liberal Republican who belongs in the Smithsonian, not the White House.

    February 15, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  12. ALWAYS RIGHT (of left) Twin Cities, MN

    Sounds like McCain already thinks Obama is going to be the nominee.
    Why doesn't he go to Hillary and ask her the same thing??

    It also screams desperation on McCains end because he knows he can't raise the kind of money Obama came because he doesn't have the support of the people.

    Obama isn't perfect and neither is McCain, there's going to be A LOT of things that the politicians are going to change their minds about. So Hillary supporters get over yourselves!

    February 15, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. Dameun Strange

    You guys are all very sad cry-babies. Sad that an African-American with a MLK like unified front appeal will be president. I am appalled by the lack of vision of my fellow Americans. Shame on all of you. McCain once had integrity, he lost it 4 years ago when he agreed to be pimped out by Carl Rove, the very person who had sodomized him 4 years prior to that. Please, do you think that Johnny Mac will be there for you in the end. Come now, let's not be naive.

    February 15, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  14. ILoveAmerica

    Any money that is spent to prevent another war-monger from gaining the next presidency will be the most well-spent money in the world.

    Let McCain have the honor of keeping his pledge.

    And let the American people have the wisdom to elect a President who will stop wasting hundreds of American lives and huge sums of money in Iraq.

    February 15, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  15. Jabari

    Where are you all reading that Obama said no? Or are the people who hate Obama just injecting that part into the story? Reading is fundamental.

    February 15, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. MC

    The difference between Obama's Health Plan and Clinton's Health plan are so minute. Why are people making it seem like there are vast differences? It really shouldn't be a deciding factor because I'm sure who ever wins the White House will tweek their plan to fit the best interest of the people.

    February 15, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  17. JOHN

    mccain, did he say he was 100 years old or the u.s. would be in iraq for 100 years. old man, with old ideas and a bush clone.

    February 15, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  18. Emman

    McCain knows if Obama is the nominee then he'll have a hard time beating him in the general election. If it's Hillary, however, it'll be easy because half of the democrats hate her and the republicans loathe her to the core.

    February 15, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  19. Shyam

    That is the best trap I have ever heard. If Mr. Obama agrees to this, We are sure as soon as he publically commits to it and it becomes clear that he will be the nominee, the Republicans will definitely start lashing out their publicity on Muslim story in Bible belt through conservative Radio stations. Obama will be left with out means to reach out to the people. It is not going to be McCain who will do the dirty jobs but it will be the Radio hosts. Democrats do not walk in to this trap. As of today Obama will beat McCain with his youth and hope and Republicans know it well.

    February 15, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  20. Stephen,Wilmington,NC

    I don't believe any of them. Politicians will say and do anything to get elected. They have no honor. Obama made a commitment before he knew how things would turn out. Now that he's doing well he;s not going to give up all that money. As far as McCain, well I hope McCain-Feingold works out swell for him.

    February 15, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  21. Texas4Obama

    Taking about public financing at this stage of the game is irrelevant. It needs to be done AFTER the nominees are chosen.

    February 15, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  22. judelle

    Dani
    You have issues with Baracks plan, yet HRCs plan forces everyone into health care weather they want it or not and inforces penalties if they don't take it. Get you facts straight Baracks plan ( and yes I have read it). makes health care affordable for who ever wants it and only mandates ( in other words force) children to have it, because children clearly are not adults and can't make the decision to accept or reject health care.

    February 15, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  23. RSP

    Here we go...

    This is what all the Obama supporters are going to face if you vote him in as the Democratic nominee. The Republicans led by John McCain, will have him for lunch. McCain is a fighter, and a formidable opponent. Obama simply will not be able to compete with him.

    All you democrats better vote for Hillary, because she's the only one with the strength to stand up to John McCain.

    February 15, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  24. Nando

    To HELL with MCCRAZY and the WARMONGERS!!!!!!

    February 15, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  25. mike

    why would he go public financing he would make 185 mil as opposed to 85 mil for the public financing. seems like mccain is worried how much obama can make during the general election. furthermore, the rnc has 200 mil waiting for the general. that would be stupid for obama to accept the public financing bid... take a hit, keep with your small donors and move forward like you always do... obama 08

    February 15, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
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