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. AJ, IL

    So, the "straight-talk express" is going on off the rails again. Just hold on Senator McCain, the Obama campaign will deal with you shortly once we wrap up Texas, Vermont, Rhode Island and Ohio on March 4th.

    Interesting to note that McCain turned down public financing for his primary campaign. Last summer McCain was asking for public financing for his primary and now is turning it down. Sorry McCain, had you stuck to your word maybe you would have more credence, but not now.

    Obama in 08!

    February 20, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. VERY concerned citizen!

    Well, it will be interesting to see if the people voting for Senator Obama feel that it is OK to not follow thru on what he has said. He has said alot during the campaign thusfar – it does make me wonder what else he will not follow thru on!

    February 20, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. Matt B

    You're goin down old man! McCain vs. Obama looks like a WaMu commercial.

    February 20, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. kathleen, illinois

    Is that all McCain can come up with. Why, this far in
    the race would he mention that Obama should change
    his fabulous base of funding contributions. Why would
    Obama change what has worked for him. McCain knows
    Obama has done terrific on raising his own funds without
    Public Funds. McCain should be careful what attacks he
    throws at Obama because McCain will not be able to take
    funds from lobbyists and he will have to reports where his
    funds are coming from. "OLD POLITICS" will not work this
    time for the Republicans. They have won by false attacks
    and lying to the American people in the name of religion.
    They really did not win with Gore and Kerry. They cheated.
    Now they want Obama to stoop to their level. Whatever
    Obama chooses to do with campaign raising, I am sure
    it will be honest.

    OBAMA 2008-2016

    February 20, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. Laura New York

    What are the limitations of public funding ? If it is capped, then I think it is great supplemented by free radio and TV, if it is not capped, then we could have people like Oprah picking the next president. Kind of like what is happening now. Boy did she miss an opportunity to advance the world by picking him and not backing Hillary.

    We cannot vote this man in just because he is afican american. people cannot vote for him based on their skin color like they admit they are doing time and time again.
    Yes....he can inspire, but he is cluless....

    Yes white folks are voting for him too, and african americans are voting for hillary. that is typical....but to vote based on your skin color is setting up for an ilegitimate presidency all over again.

    we are in sooooooo much trouble people....

    February 20, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Emmanuel, Ind

    Look who is talking of double speak after running away from the same public financing during the primaries? John you are really a joke. What are you afraid of? Shaking in your pants already about the tidal wave called HOPE EXPRESS that is coming right at you. John take it like a man, take it as war hero besides you've survived worse things than this.

    And show me on paper or on TV where Obama PLEDGED. Obama did not PLEDGE to take public financing, Obama said he will be up for it if well drafted. And now he has given you a fair draft that will make him accept public financing and you still want to cry? And we know about the GOP 527 waiting to pounce on Obama, so we know you want to trap him. John you can't even touch Obamas character so don't even try to smear him.

    February 20, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  7. Praetorian, Ft. Myers, FL

    I wouldn't look for a prompt response with strong personal convictions on the issue from Obama.....

    He isn't capable of it.

    February 20, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. Herb

    McCain's one of the biggest phonies in politics today. Real conservatives found this out a long time ago. His "Straight Talk Express" should be known as the "Doubl Talk Express" He, like Billiary will say anything or do anything to win. How pathetic 8-(

    February 20, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. kathleen, illinois


    OBAMA 2008-2016

    February 20, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. shlomoamir

    McCain is an Israel-Firster. He puts the lives of Israelis over Americans and would send American boys and girsl off to die in a needless war against Iran for the benefit of his precious Israel just like he did when he gives Bush carte blanche to keep American troops in Iraq for 100 plus years. Israel-Firsters like MCcain cannot be trusted and should be turfed out of office for being lackeys of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committtee (AIPAC).

    February 20, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. Chris

    McCain turned down public financing before and now he agreed to it because he is lacking in funding. Obama's funding comes from online from regular people. If he agrees to public financing, what people don't realize is that, it comes with limits. For McCain it works well, because he does not have much to begin with but for Obama, it will mean that he cannot raise more funds because of the limits.

    Way to spin, McCain. Republicans dirty as usual.

    February 20, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. NickNasc

    WOW Obama has this man Scared already. He is smarter than I thought. He knows The Democrats are going to DOMINATE the pledges for Cash to get back the Whitehouse and he has to stop us NOW!

    Typical Politician though. I did it to get where I am today but I don't want HIM to do it> LOL When are these old fashioned Politicians going to figure out that people are NOT stupid????

    February 20, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. Veronica

    The Obama campaign seems unable to take responsibility for a single gaffe they make. We are all human, we all make mistakes. Is Obama perfect?

    I guess when you search on Obama and Messiah, there's a reason so many links pop up.

    This is a straightforward example of actions versus words (and MLK and JFK were notable for their having performed actions BEFORE using the words).

    February 20, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. Not Ready

    All Obama does is say one thing, dazzle, dazzle, dazzle and then say something different if it helps him.

    All we have to go on are his words:

    Copied others speeches.
    Copied Hillary's policy proposals.
    Agreed to Public Financing, now won't agree.
    Several sexist comments directed at Hillary.
    Trying to change the rules on "superdelegates".
    Called the popular votes in Michigan, Florida and Washington a "beauty contest" (represents over 4 million voters) but wants us to care more about the number of "contests" he has won including when on 400 people vote in Alaska.

    Come on people, think for yourselves. Don't be brainwashed.

    February 20, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. VERY concerned citizen!

    I noticed on one of the other articles that people were asking what Senator Clinton has accomplished..................are people really that ignorant? Geez......just go get informed – it is part of what is wrong with this nomination process – there are people on these blogs and voting that only have 1/2 a brain.

    An informed voter would actually take the time to go and read what each of the nominees are proposing and their positions – then perhaps there could be some intelligence on these sites vs. the bla bla bla of very uninformed and ignorant people. They are however who CNN plays to 🙂 and from what I have gathered, Senator Obama supporters on these sites.

    Shameful display of how people can be manipulated by a candidates words and the medias presentation.

    February 20, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. Fred DeFreitas

    I am trying to reach out to fellow American's. To fellow Democrats.
    Don't we thank enough is enough. Can't you all see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know it looks like the American people are leaning towards Obama, but we must look past the charade of his speech's and press on to what is real... The reality is he isn't. The reality is the majority of the people who voted for him are black... Only because he is black. Not for the what he say's about change.. Hillary talks about change also , but in a more experienced realistic way.. I watch the news .. I read the paper.
    I see the news agency's say many things.. Obama wins the black vote here the black vote there... I live in a predominantly black neighborhood, and my neighbors are asked the question why they voted for Obama. Answer: Because he is black . Know other reason only because he is black.. Oh or because Ohpra Winfry backs him..All about being black not about what he can do... There are over fifty voters in my family and we feel the same ...Experience gets it .. Experience is Hillary ...If Hillary doesn't get it then we must go with John McCain... It would be the first time that many of us if not all of us voted republican but we need experience .... Please people watch the news and really look at the newspaper and you will see what is happening... The Republican will still run the White House if this Obama things happens..... Fred DeFreitas , Sacramento , California.

    February 20, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. California Independent

    He will have many things to go after Obama for.

    Obama states his speech won't have 'as many applause lines.' To me this means have been purposely empty and will have a hard time convincing people he has any substance.

    Obama states 'I am not a perfect vessel.' He's self reverential. The absorbtion of the messianic persona does not go over well with everyone.

    Obama already 'cheated' by his own definition by using the 527s.

    February 20, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Exposing the Cult

    More Obamabot DOUBLE TALK EXPRESS. Read the man's editorial in USA, it's full of double talk. Either you take public financing or not. MCain is right. It's simple.

    February 20, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. keep us safe==== texas


    February 20, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. Ilene

    Are we getting a little desperate???

    February 20, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Frank, San Diego

    Giving the Republicans an opening like this is more evidence of Obama's political inexperience. It just adds to the "plagiarism" issue and the surrogate who couldn't cite any of his accomplishments.

    Obama seems to think that just because he wasn't a part of the political wars of the last fifteen years the Republicans are not going to treat him the same way they have the Clintons.

    He needs to cry foul early and often, with strong overtones of racial indignation, if he is going to survive their onslaught. They are completely unprincipled liars, and they aren't going to change their spots for him or anyone else.

    Obama and his supporters need to hold McCain personally responsible for every outrage that seeps out of the right-wing internet cesspool. And if McCain denies responsibility, they need to then accuse him of having lost control of his own party. The win in November is going to the best political street fighter, not the best orator.

    February 20, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. Obamacan

    I agree with Obama. The purpose of the public financing agreement was to make this election free and fair... not to pay off McCain's loans. There shouldn't be outside help.

    February 20, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. the voice of Truth

    McThuseleh had better come up with something better than this. He's morphing into a Bushesque attack dog. He's trying to twist Obama's words into something he didn't say–so much for straight talk. This country has had enough of the Grumpy Old Party and it's corruption and croneyism.

    February 20, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. aware

    Go John McCain! Obama needs to be stopped. The media,as it did with W, has anointed Barack. How can Americans make the same mistake twice – far R to far L? 😦

    If not Hillary Clinton, then John McCain.

    Hillary the HOPEof 08 🙂

    February 20, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. Brian M. From Fort Mill, S.C.

    My message to John McCain:
    I also hope that Obama keeps his promises. I hope he does take public financing, as limited as it is. But I also know this: You want to continue this stupid war that was supposed to be won 5 years ago (remember "Mission Accomplished"???). The rest of the country wants those troops to either come home, or go to Afghanistan, where they can actually win something. THAT's the war we're supposed to be fighting. Afghanistan is the country that attacked us, not Iraq! All Iraq ever did to us was to try to kill Bush's father!

    Obama could beat you for free. He won't need any money to beat you. I'll bet you that Obama can get more conservatives to vote for him than you can. That must really suck – you can't even energize your own Republican base, while your opponent can!

    February 20, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
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