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. Eddie

    I am so happy McCain is calling Obama to the Carpet on things. Why Hillary didnt make more of this earlier is amazing to me. Obama is like a Democratic George Bush, he plans to delegate out his plans to other people because he, him self has no plan. he is not unlike a motivation speaker that is all show no substance. i am an independent voter and i will not vote for Obama. he is too green, too naive and needs more time to understand what the role of the US President is to the rest of the world.

    February 15, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. remy white

    why would sen mccain be surprised about obamas,breaking commitments?..... obamas constant flip flopping and flagrant attempts to ignore the issues?wont debate hillary in wisconsin,yes they may have debated 18 times with all the dem candidates ,8 or nine candidates present.....but only obama and hillary debated only once in SC ........and hillary went easy on obama....obama lacks substance,experience and is weak on detailed issues but talks plenty of fluff,obamas got good speech writers....but when it comes to a PROVEN RECORD OF CHANGE,??make no mistake about it,its hillary. i hope wisconsin people,take a good hard look at the choice here......we wont have another chance,if obama were the dem nominee?sen mccain would ponce down hard,on obamas experience as well as his past pracices in college,morals,ethics.clinton would beat mccain.

    February 15, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  3. joe

    Oh Please - Obama is a shmuck. Cutl Obama will die out soon - 20 year olds don't hang on to fads for too long - and if Obama wins the primary - we are stuck with a kid in diapers that lots of sexist men and black people will vote for - what a "CHANGE" - go America!!!!

    Obama will do what is best for him - as any other politician will do –he will lie, make false promises like the one he is "taking back" now about campaign financing....but most of all - the horror of his whole Mesiah image - is that he won't know his butt from his head if he gets to the White House - now that is different than all the other candidates.

    Unfortunately maybe Obama is like JFK - look at JFK's record people...not so great...catch a clue!

    February 15, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Mike Miyake

    I just want to find out about from both of the Candidates Obama and McCain, that we have debt so much trillion dollars for Subprime Loan. I want to ask both of candidates to answer how can you do to solve those subprime loan problems that we have right now. And how both candidates can solve those who are out of jobs and we don't have too many to pick from...and what would those candidates can do for American peoples job or how to bring back those Companies here in the United States of America? I understand about NAFTA but we are suffer about jobs. Lots of lay offs right now...what do we have to do those who are out of jobs? We need some one can solve problems with GLOBAL SITUATION. OBAMA or McCain which one can do you think do the best to those matters? Iraq war we still have to solve those too...and boarder from Mexico. Immigration matters...before that we want to solve our inside of America matters to solve too. Please, someone can make them to answer back for us. Thank you for taking my question and comment. From Mike Miyake

    February 15, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  5. Chris Austin Texas

    Figures CNN won't post my response to the Lobbyist comment I had.
    Maybe some of you who criticized me will read this.
    #1, I wouldn't be bum'd out if Obama got the nomination over Hillary. I would vote for Obama.
    #2, Some of you need to research what a Lobbyist is. Everyone puts a bad wrap on Lobbyist because they have no clue what they actually are. Not all Lobbyists are "bad". (There are some special interests that we could go without).
    #3, Obama has infact taken quite a bit of money from Lobbyist throughout his Political career. He also took a bit of money from a Lobbyist fundraising event to start off his Presidential bid. (Also, some of his donations are from self proclaimed "Former" Lobbyists)
    Taking money from Lobbyist's isn't as bad as people make it out to be. There have been some weak minded people in the past, but Hillary and Obama? I give them more credit than that.

    I am educated, I did goto college, and I understand politics more than most. ( I won't claim to know everything). But I do my research. Also, if you goto the Hillary website, there is a list of Lobbyist's that have donated to Obama. (These may be the Lobbyist's who claim they are no longer Lobbyist's). Either way. Check it out.

    February 15, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  6. beachnan

    Finally, someone is calling Obama out on something. It is about time. It seems to me that most of the time, people are walking on eggshells around this candidate because they are so afraid of seeming racist or having their comment turned into something it isn't. A perfect example would be Bill Clinton's comments in South Carolina which were twisted or spun by the media into something entirely different from what he really said. I'm glad someone is doing it, even if it is McCain. If Obama is the Democratic candidate, he will have to answer a lot of questions that are a lot tougher and I predict that McCain's experience will prevail. That's why we need Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. She has been through the fires before and emerged triumphantly. She has the toughness and the experience to defeat John McCain. Rock star Obama indeed has flaws, and a lot of you need to figure it out, before it's too late.

    February 15, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  7. BobW

    Did somebody throw the Hillary fans and McCain supporters a raw piece of meat before their feeding time? Really folks, belonging to the potentially losing side doesn't mean you have to be so obnoxious. Obama had said previously that he would honor his commitment. Too bad Hillary didn't do the same when she promised the voters of New York that she wasn't going to use her senate seat as a stepping stone to the presidency.

    February 15, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  8. Ann

    Are you kidding? Now that Obama is the front runner and has raised the amount of money he has, he is not going to abide by the committment he made in the past. He is a hypocrite, and spins his words just like what he accuses of "typical Washington". He will do whatever it takes to get himself elected. He is the same old politician just trying to wrap himself up in a difderent package. When someone is as critical as he has been of the older generation, and the "insiders", he knows all the tricks himself, and will stoop to whatever level it takes. Wake up America.

    February 15, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  9. Corinna from Arizona

    McCain, never, I'm an Independent from Arizona, I can't remember the last thing he did for us here in the last ten years. Please this is just the beginning of the good ol' boy spin they are going to throw at any Democrat. After the competition between Obama and Clinton, go Obama, if Senator McCain wants the funds to be fair I am sure there will be millions of Obama supporters more than willing and able to paint their own signs, create their own shirts, go door to door. I have already seen a car spray painted Obama here.

    February 15, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. everistus etafo

    it is sad jessica to just dismiss obama as not good for the country when you dont even know the man ?who is so love by so many maybe its time to overcome your heart and pray for understanding to be in the know! also for those who choose to insult an older man like mccain pls dont ! respect him because he is older! even though we know his not the best man to inspire our nation to a better place!

    February 15, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  11. ed

    I agree on fact that Obama is already seen as hypocrite.Hi is just a nice talking guy.I find myself in position that is a good choice voting republican.

    February 15, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  12. Aaron

    This is another story left out of the main headlines that shows Obama is a liar. He doesn't want superdelegates making the decision for the people yet hes gave 3 times the amount to superdelegates than Hillary has. He says he 'll be right from day one yet has voted over 100 times in the Illinois senate "present." He accuses Hillary of combing through his "hundreds" of votes and picking ones that highlight his incompetence yet does the same thing to her. I really would like an Obama supporter to highlight for me specific reasons they like him. Specific things he's done that has helped americans. Other than voting present on whether or not Illinois should let sex shops be by elementary schools. Go past all the petty negative comments made about Hillary and listen to her tell people how many kids have healthcare because of her, how she wants to reinforce the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan, or how she wants to crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers. Now why do you like Obama other than "he gives great speeches" or he's a "movement!!!"

    VOTE FOR HILLARY '08

    February 15, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  13. Carrie

    Um hello people. There has been no breaking of word. We do not even have a primary winner. Why doesn't everyone actually wait to see what he is going to do before you call him a hypocrit? A little objectivity would be nice.

    February 15, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  14. Adam

    Obama can never give a straight answer on ANY difficult question/situation. He is the most evasive person when it comes to matters such as these. Yet, he's suppose to be our agent of change?? Doubtful. Maybe they should be saving "Change we can make-believe in".

    February 15, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  15. James

    I guess this is the kind of change we can expect from Obama!!!!

    Typical politician, change, hope, blah,blah,blah. Nice Cuban,Che flag hanging in your Houston office. No vote for you!

    February 15, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  16. Melinda

    Before anyone "gets after me," this is my first time on a blog and I'm on because I care deeply about this upcoming election. Sooo...I appreciate any help. Thanks for the interruption.

    February 15, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  17. Inspirethis

    I would vote for McCain over Obama any day.

    February 15, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  18. Rayco

    Jessica, how can you say that Obama is like any other politician and then you say that Hillary would be better or that you would vote for McCain, which one is it? Then how do you choose, what are you basing this on, I sincerely hope you have something better than this to back up your opinion.

    How is he not good for your country? I am amazed at all of you high and mighty individuals who change your minds all of the time but expect others not to. Would you rather he be like good ol' George and stick to a statement or policy even if it is wrong. Yeah, that's the kind of President I want..yeah right.

    Get over it. If you look at the quote, he said he would pursue it aggressisvely, how does that translate to I promise.

    Don't be a sore loser because Hillary is getting swept.

    February 15, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  19. Marcia

    I am amazed that the people of this great country continue to follow behind individuals who are unknown, untested and inexperienced but perhaps one hell of a speaker in one way or another to the likes of the Jim Jones followers just waitiing for their cup of Koolaid!!!! Our country is in grave despair and what we don't need is someone who has not proven oneself, reagrdless if we like or not we need someone to head our country that has experience and knowledge to do that and and it is not by far the time to elect someone who gives one hell of a speech, minus substantial backup . Republicans and democrates, where are your heads??

    February 15, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  20. Rebecca - CA

    Dani.... Here's the inconvenient truth.... poor people can't afford healthcare insurance on Hillary's plan either....so what's your point? They do not purchase it and then they are fined for not having it....yeah, that make's much more sense! I have been poor and now am possibly low middle income. I cannot afford health insurance either, but like Mr Obama has said.... people do not forego having health insurance because they do not want it.....it is because they cannot afford it... I am self-employed. Just in the past 5 years, the cost has become soooo outrageous, people are forced to pay for food and shelter first.

    As for public financing, seems to me they should have all made that decision before the primaries. Now that McCain is aware of Obama's fundraising potential.seems like he wants to now agree to public financing. I was under the impression that the public was the primary source of Mr. Obama's campaign support. As long as people are restricted to a maximum contribution limit, why should it matter? If lots of people are willing to contribute small amounts of money to help him get his message out, couldn't the same be also true for Mr. McCain?

    February 15, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  21. Not Surprised...

    Oh, just wait, this is only the beginning of Obama's demise... When the McCain attack machine really gets going, the Democratic party will lament their poor judgment and regret nominating a meek novice over a seasoned fighter. Four more years of a Republican president... what a shame.

    February 15, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  22. Joanne, Colorado

    Just another Flip-Flop (one of many I might add) from the Obama world of "change you can believe in" the kind of change the does not hold you accountable for your actions or what you say. You can make "bonehead" decisions, change your mind several times and not stand behind your word because to quote Obama "it important to right from the beginning". Kool aid anyone?

    February 15, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  23. James

    Barack Obama keep your word!!! You were the one who insisted on this arrangement!!

    I am shocked that this doesnt seem to be bothering obama supporters one bit, he just signed this pledge less than a yr ago and he's already backtracking on it...wow, well you dont have me fooled Mr Obama from hopenation...KEEP YOUR PLEDGE!!!

    February 15, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  24. David Jones

    I WONDER WHY OLD GRAND PA McCAIN IS BRINGING THIS UP...HEAR HIS ANTICS!
    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.

    THIS IS A MAN WHO RENEGED ON HIS PROMISE, BUT NOW WANT OBAMA TO DO THE SAME!

    TALK ABOUT DOUBLE STANDARD – THE REPUBLICAN WORMS ARE CRAWLING OUT FROM UNDER THE ROCK!!!!

    ACCEPT PUBLIC FINANCE, THEN BE LIMITED IN DONATIONS AND YOU GET SWIFTBOATED! NOT GOING TO WORK THIS TIME OLD PA!

    GO OBAMA!!!!

    February 15, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  25. chad carvell

    Ind. for huck! If Mccain is the nominee. I will vote for obama...or another 3rd party candidate...

    February 15, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
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