February 20th, 2008
11:29 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain takes aim at Obama over campaign financing


Watch McCain's comments Wednesday.

(CNN) - John McCain took aim at Barack Obama Wednesday for seeming to suggest in a USA Today editorial that he isn't ready to agree to public financing yet if he is the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.

"Facts are facts and that is that a year ago I signed a piece of paper and committed that if I were the nominee of my party that I would take public financing for the general election campaign, and at that time Sen. Obama made that same commitment," said McCain.

"Now I notice in a column in the USA Today he is talking about other outside money, about working out, look that is Washington double speak," McCain continued. I committed to public financing, he committed to public financing and it is not any more complicated than that. I hope he will keep his commitment to the American people.”

McCain's campaign also circulated a Midwest Democracy Network questionnaire last fall in which Obama wrote, "I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests."

In his editorial, Obama did not mention public financing, but called campaign finance laws "complex" and proposed an agreement with the Republican nominee on spending limits.

"The candidates will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help to outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement," Obama wrote. "And the agreement may have to address the amounts that Sen. McCain, the presumptive nominee of his party, will spend for the general election while the Democratic primary contest continues."

Responding to McCain's comments, Obama spokesman Bill Burton noted the Arizona senator turned down public financing for his primary campaign.

"John McCain is in no place to question anyone on pledges when he abandoned the latest campaign finance reform efforts in order to run for the Republican nomination and went back on his commitment to take public financing for the primary election this year," he said.

- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Tasha Diakides

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Mike (Atlanta, GA)

    You must be afraid that he will outraise you and your old established Republican multimillionaire friends? Don't worry "100 year McCain", the American public will soon send you and your tax breaks for the wealthy to your retirement party.

    February 20, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. California Voter

    It's about time that some one (the news media is afraid to say anything against an African American candidate for fear of being branded as racist) is questioning the truthfulness of Obama.

    February 20, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. McCain08

    If McCain takes C. Powell as vise President, it will beat any Obama and Clinton combined. Secretery Powell is a good person with a lot of knowledge, different from Obama, Powell has many accomplishment.

    February 20, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Nick

    So wait... the problem is that he doesn't want to campaign with taxpayer dollars? and he wishes to pay for his commercial airtime?

    February 20, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Liz

    If you had Oprah's money, ideas, resources, and personal connections to use in achieving your goals, would you want to give that up?

    February 20, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    Did McCain just change his slogan from the "Straight Talk" Express to the "Double Speak" Express?

    Puh-lease, this carrer politician is going to get trounced!

    Obama/Edwards in 2008!

    February 20, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Majority Rule Moral Majority

    Yea! The last time we got cought up in feel-good speeches it wound up costing us trillions in welfare monies for all kinds of government programs started in the 60s that have not and could not be stopped once the socialists created them! Wake Up America! Vote McCain!

    February 20, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Kevin, Louisville, Ky

    Who is more senile than this old man...he flips and flops ...McCANE...you do not inspire anyone..just stay with your beautiful wife and let her spoon feed you in the Senate Retirement Home.....

    February 20, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. VT DEM

    McCain is my man in November if Hillary doesn't get the nomination. Maybe they should take a poll on how many feel the same way. And isn't it funny how they close the comment section on articles that comment on Obama lack of anything notiable he has done in the senat. The comments were really for Hillary, and really calling into question what Obama has done. If it were the other way around they would let the comments go on up into the hundreds. Just another way the networks are working this election.

    February 20, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Doug

    Let's get John McCain to talk about that million dollar loan he took out for New Hampshire and how he intends to pay it back I'd love to hear his response.

    February 20, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Mary

    McCain, go away. Why are you so afraid of Obama? Fear, Fear, Fear.
    It's time for a new vision in Washington, one of Hope.
    Yes We Can!

    February 20, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. Mike

    So let me get this straight, Obama hasn't even refused public financing, but McCain is calling him out when he's already done it for the primary.

    Wow, just wow.

    Republicans are really scared of all the people Obama is bringing to the process, how the losing Democrat in a primary has more votes than were cast in Republican primary altogether, how McCain speaks to hundreds, while Obama speaks to thousands. People underestimate the wave he's created, that's how polls said Wisc was too close to call, but turned into a 17 pt win blowout.

    Record turnout in November, you can count on it, and judging by the turnouts for the primaries, we know who that is going to favor.

    February 20, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. Sharon of Illinois

    Is he kidding? He planned on using the public financing to cover his bank loan in the case of a failed candidacy. I have a much bigger problem with that. In addition, did Obama say explicitly he would use the public funds or did he inquire about it IF the republican nom. would do the same? Anyway, at this point after the rules are being pushed to be changed regarding Michigan and Florida, I don't blame him for being gun shy. Established politicians seem to want to change the rules as he goes. He may commit and McCain not follow through and we all know no one cares about fairness.

    February 20, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. FDA

    McCain doesn't understand anything but war, he's made that clear -he and Bush. Finances and Economics aren't their high points. He's getting to old to have to deal with running the country and economics and foreign policy and education.

    February 20, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. PCS / North Carolina

    With all due respect to McCain, he wants to keep our troops in iraq for another 50yrs. !! We have 754 bases across the globe to control other countries, but we are still struggling to rebuild Katrina, and a few trillion budget deficit. The point is, this election is going to be about bringing back our troops and getting out of this recession (we are in a recession !!). Therefore McCain's positions are not going to generate enough campaign contributions to thwart the democratic nominee in November.

    February 20, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Why does it take hundreds of millions of dollars to run a campaign anyway?

    Advertising, which, in itself, goes to the highest bidder. The media, who stoked the Iraq invasion, by propagating the lies of the Bush/Cheney Administration, is going to pick his successor too, as everyone will fall in line like they did for Bush.

    And, yet, somewhere here in the USA another child goes to bed sick, hungry and/or abused. Yep, I am a proud American, too.

    February 20, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. No more Bush/McCaine

    That's very funny! See McCaine feel so threatened by Obama's victories, that he has already started attacking.

    McCaine, you are a hero, but I will NOT vote for a soldier ever again. You have a distorted view of our "enemies" and righfully so because of the torture you were put through. We do not want to be ruled be fear, we need a new direction in this country and I believe the young people finally deserve a voice!

    Say NO to war,
    Say NO to Exxon,
    Say NO to tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations!

    Vote to make a difference! VOTE OBAMA

    February 20, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Joe nyc

    It looks like Obama collected over $5 millions in the last 20 hours.. wow..

    I think I saw a report some two weeks ago where McCain had turned down public finance immediately after it was clear he would be the nominee.. now that he sees that he may be facing Obama's success in raising funds, it looks to me that McCain is renegging and trying to make Obama look bad...

    February 20, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  19. Garry

    You talk about being commited , Sen. Obama voted present in Illinois how many times? He also won't where a American Flag Lapel Pin becasue he says its a political statement so just what is he commited to besides SPEECHES. His Wife says that for the first time she is PROUD OF OUR COUNTRY! Is this the couple we want in the WHITE HOUSE representing the UNITED STATES ! I think not

    February 20, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. Ian

    McCain looks like Dr. Evil except with Austin Powers' teeth.

    February 20, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. anon

    McCain is a man who has accomplished a lot in his career in the senate.
    Obama is a man who has accomplished NOTHING in the senate.
    McCain has military experience and a son serving in Iraq.
    Obama has NO military experience.

    McCain is clearly a better candidate than Obama.

    February 20, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. I Love Barack

    You know why McCain is crying? In January, he raised $12 mil., while Barack raised $36!

    He wants Barack to be tied with lack of money to respond to the republican attack machines.

    Mr. McCain, we are not fools. Barack can change his mind, just like you did about public funding last Summer.

    Obama 08/12

    February 20, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. Jerry Smallwood

    Give me a break John!!! You are so much like your "mentor", George Bush. You really think we, the american public, are just plain dumb, don't you? Well let me tell you, we know, just like you know, that the only reason you are concerned about Obama's use of private funding is that you know his fundraising efforts will greatly outperform yours. Why not just call it what it is? Your statements about being a man of your word is just tplain crap on your part!! Don't fool yourself, we all see through it. Be carefull, because opening pandora's box will certainly reveal the numerous times you have said one thing and done the opposite,but, oh, I'm sorry, I forgot, that's ok because you are a Republican and have the support of both Pappa and baby Bush.

    February 20, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    I really don't blame him if he goes back on that pledge. Obama has more fundraising power than John McCain. And, while it is a noble concept to only accept public financing, the Republicans are going to come at the Democratic nominee with every Swiftboat/Karl Rove attack method they have. If he limits his finances, he will be at a disadvantage when he will not engage in the type of 2000 and 2004 Republican campaign tactics.

    That said, because McCain was a victim of Karl Rove in 2000, I sincerely hope that he will discourage and condemn any swiftboating and dirty tactics. If he doesn't, all the respect I have for him will go flying out the window.

    February 20, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Jeff


    February 20, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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