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. Bob

    I promise, even if you accept public financing, I won't think you're any less corrupt. I promise.

    February 20, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. John in PA

    This is just the first of many direct attacks to come from the Republican machine. If Obama cannot stand up and answer this firmly and directly, he has no chance in November, and should not be given the opportunity.

    February 20, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  3. Ken Phillips, Jersey City, NJ

    Ah 'THE MACHISMO-MAN', 'THE MAVERICK', 'THE MANEQUIN-MAN' looks sooooo much like an "OUT-DATED" and "OUT-OF-PLACE" RELIC, whose time has come and already GONE, – – – back in 2000 AD !!!!!

    February 20, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Jim

    Funny how Obama chides Clinton for taking special interest money, saying he doesn't. Yet, he takes plenty from Unions. He knows perfectly well they're special interest. He just relies on his supporters being clueless. To all the Obama supporters; how's it feel to be treated like an idiot by your candidate?

    February 20, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  5. Sue, Michigan

    And Obama outspent Hillary 4 to 1 in Wisconsin. If it's possible to buy an election, that is what he is doing. I can hardly wait for the debates-can this man answer a question about what he will do other than "hope for change?"

    February 20, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  6. Ken, Suitland MD

    Let the [R] hypocrisy begin......

    John McCain wishes to lead a party that is dead-set against campaign finance reform so they can keep their culture of corruption going. In fact he is criticized mightily within that party for his own efforts in that area. Now what are we to believe: is he going to stick to his guns, and go against his party's wishes, or, as he has done in so many other areas, will he cave in to the right-wing of the party and dutifully renounce his own good sense in that area. The man is so craven for the support of the right-wing that he is following Buschie's train that is leading us right back to the dark ages. Maybe the right-wing will force him to take Cheney as a running mate, so that neo-dink can continue to run the country into the ground.

    February 20, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. Jim673

    John McCain will have a difficult time trying to get Barrak Obama to keep to a promise involving money. McCain should know that Obama has his fingers tightly grasped on the cash and will not let it loose. If McCain is looking to Obama Honor. Quite simply, there is none. Not even any of the Obamanation voters know or care to know the meaning of the word. Birds of a feather they are. Anything to win. No plan beyond that. Pointing out Obamas short commings won't work eather. The Obamanation simply does not care. Thats why, if the Clinton campaign fails. Democrates that truly believe in, experience and honor will support McCain.

    February 20, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    The emperor has no clothes and his name is Obama.
    Obama offered to take public financing if the republican opponent did, a surragote of Obama could not give one example of an Obama legislative accomplishment.
    And why did CNN stop comments on the story of Obama's spokesperson being unable to name one accomplishment of Obama's after only 45 comments when they let other ticker items go into the 100's?

    February 20, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  9. mary

    I just heard Obama did a flip flop, I guess he won't get all the troops out of Iraq in 60 days. What gives?

    February 20, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  10. Tim

    This is just an "old guy" up to "old washington political tactics".

    Wasn't this just a questionairre anyway? I don't think it was a bill or a contract or anything more. Obama agreed with the premise, but didn't go further.

    Go home McCain.... you scare the crap out of me anyway! I have a 2 year old to think about and I don't want him in Iraq for your "100 years war"!

    Alos, this sounds like what Clinton tried to do to Obama over the past few months.... Obama explains/the truth comes out and McCain/Clinton can't let it go and goes around the country, spreading rumors and scare tactics. This is just like the health care proposals.... he has explained, but she walks around, scaring people and saying "under his plan, you won't have health care".

    Gimme a break!

    February 20, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. Lisa

    Here we go! Isn't he just like the rest. Campaign finance is what we all need, unless of course I can out raise and spend my opponent. All he want was to clench the democratic nomination, once that happens he will be just like the rest of them.

    February 20, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. VT DEM

    Under his plan you will not have health care! He is low balling, and his plan will get eaten away by the Republicans.

    February 20, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. will

    Mccain is so sad....he is just terrified knowing Obama will raise soooo much money he will not have a chance

    February 20, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. AJ

    Tim – if the shoe were on the other foot, you Obamazombies would be screaming bloody murder. This is just another example of Obama lying.
    I am a Clinton supporter, I wil NOT support Obama if he becomes the nominee. I will vote outside my party for the first time in 29 years and vote for McCain. I have never voted for a single republican, but I will vote against my Democratic legislators who endorsed Obama and I would never vote Obama. He is a national disaster waiting to happen!

    February 20, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. rudy W

    What a phony Obama is.....he commited to something but is now running away from it. He will do anything to get elected, even if that means cheating. I hope he get nominated. Its easier to beat him anyways...

    February 20, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Jenny, Rio Vista, CA

    Barack's supporters are going to donate, donate, and donate some more. McCain knows that he is not going to get the support he needs to challenge Barack so he is trying to get around it. He is just like Clinton. The rules only apply when it gives them an advantage.

    The country is sick and tired of the old Washington cronies. McCain go take another stroll through a Bagdad market. This time go it alone without a bullet-proof vest, helicopters, and armed guards. Then come back and tell us how safe it is in Iraq.

    February 20, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  17. Darth Vadik, CA

    Yeah McCain, those attacks are working great for Hillary.

    Obama is just plain UNBEATABLE.

    If the Clinton's cant do it, you don't have a snownballs chance in Hell of doing it.

    But keep dreaming...

    February 20, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. Claudette, TX


    NObama '08

    February 20, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Derek, Riverside CA

    More dishonesty from Obama. The facts are that McCain said he would consider using public financing for the primary because he was out of money, however, his contributions increased and he didn't need to.

    It's just another dodge from Obama. He commits to something when it's politically convenient, then when it's not he goes on the attack without responding.

    Don't get me started about the 100 years thing. Either Obama is being dishonest and disingenous or he is completely uneducated when it comes to foreign policy. Take your pick.

    February 20, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. Mike Smith, Port Washington, NY

    So McCain decided – after he publicly declared that it was mathematically impossible for his opponent to win the primary - that he would ignore the primary spending limits he had agreed to. The only conclusion I can draw is that McCain's money is now rolling in as presumptive Repub nominee. So basically, McCain is already on his general election campaign, and spending money without limits. I don't see any real substance to his stance that he would give up private money for the general election only - in his case, that is now.

    February 20, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. VB from AL

    Who can take this guy seriously? Anyone who would hold on with both hands to Bush's failed policies is clearly off his medication.

    February 20, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. jrzshor

    obama is going to take the money. just like any politician. the "change" part is that he doesn't five any.

    February 20, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. andy

    Looks like Obama just can't so no to those special interest dollars coming his way, his lobbyist campaign manager must be giving him this advice

    Gimme a break!

    February 20, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. Craig

    Oh – I see Tim's logic now – If Obama agrees to something in writing (his editorial) and in premise (the questionnaire), but then backs out of it, then he is telling the "truth"....and everyone else should just "let it go".....

    If being consistent and honest are "old Washington political tactics" then I would agree, Obama isn't engaging in "old Washington political tactics". What Obama is being is something entirely different, I would agree. Try disingenous, deceitful and dishonest. Anything to win, eh Tim?


    February 20, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. Billy

    I mean just yesterday McCain turned the public funding.
    he keeps calling Obama out on it but if he is truly a leader, go ahead and commit to it and stop talking about you going to do it. Does Obama have to hold your hand and cross the street. Be a leader and lead and then you can call Obama out on it but at this point, McCain looking in the mirror.

    February 20, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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