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. Vince, Phoenix



    (deep breath)

    February 20, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Wayne, Greenville TX

    John McCain is the political equivalent of the guy who sits by his window and yells at the neighborhood kids to get off his lawn....

    February 20, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Ean

    There are so many loop-holes surrounding the issue of campaign finance that it would be absolutely idiotic to not sit down with the opposition prior to agreeing to terms. Would you trust your competition to play be the rules without clearly defining what they are? McCain thinks the people of America are stupid, and will fall for this kind of attack. Go sell crazy someplace else.

    February 20, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Ron

    Of course McCain does not mention that he would public financing as collateral for a campaign loan made before before the New Hampshire primary. I think maybe is in the early stages of memory loss. Just remember the things you want.

    February 20, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. CWD Chicago

    Senator Obama's current campaign IS publicly financed - in a way that no one had dreamed of when he announced his candidacy a year ago. It is financed by $25 and $50 donations from hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans like me. He has taken not a cent from lobbyists. I would call that campaign finance reform.

    February 20, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. Tom, Y-town, OH

    Same old Republican war tatics...misconstrue the truth to baffle the millions. I must admit, they are good at it........take the Iraqi war for an example.......

    February 20, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Tony

    Why is he trying to tell Obama how to run his campaign? And besides, since what he says is NOT true, what exactly does he want? He can not convince his own party that he should be their nominee and the best he can offer is an early start on unsubstantiated attacks? The only positive think so far came from his wife who said that she is proud of her country. Even that looked as an attack meant to suggest that Michele Obama may not be proud of her country (since she was actually REALLY proud).

    February 20, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Ron Paul refuses to face the reality that he is fighting a losing battle, and no one is listening to his message. That's why the MSM is ignoring him. Why should they cover someone whose own party doesn't give more than single-digit percentages of teh vote?

    All you Ron Paul supporters need to face reality, too. Look at Barack Obama – he's one candidate that a wide range of people can, will, and DO support.

    February 20, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. Ron Sansone, Hazlet NJ

    You know McCain did not say anything about a WAR for 100 years.
    Stop the Non-Sense.
    He said it didn't matter how long we were there as long as the fighting ended. It's not a question of pulling out it's a question of winning.
    Besides if Obama wins you won't have to worry about sending your child overseas to fight, the enemy will be at our front door.

    February 20, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Patricia

    I listen to both Obama & Hillary, He has chrisma but no substance to do the job as president of the free world. How could people be so naive. Don't you see what the Republicans are doing. They are voting for Obama so that Clinton can loose. Then they will turn on Obama like wild fire. No matter how smart he is MC CAIN and the Republican machine will tear him to threads. Do not be fooled by the Republican ploy, CNN you are very bias in your reporting tactics. OBAMA ? you are riding high, CONGRATULATIONS! When it is all over than you will see the real people behind you and they will not be enough to win you the Presidency, because they will all be voting Republican.

    February 20, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  11. LisaMpls

    What is Obama's explanation for going back on his pledge, if that is what he decides to do?

    Tom, are you looking at independent sources for Obama's healthcare plan? They say that Obama's plan will leave approximately 15 million people uninsured. Obama's only sources that he cites countering this is from Robert Reich's statement on December 3, a statement that Reich himself has called into question for the sake of accuracy. Go to factcheck.org for more independent information, if you are interested in accuracy.

    February 20, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Tom

    Obama clearly lied

    February 20, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |

    Obama already has Public Financing he has nothing but small donors funded by the public. Nice try McBush, we know your nervous, but that's what happens when the people take charge.

    February 20, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. Di

    Go McCain!!!

    Let people know what Obama really is!!!

    February 20, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  15. TJ, Hoboken, NJ

    Obama made a commitment and if he is the nominee he must keep his word... I'd rather Hillary be the nominee but if Obama wins it, I'll vote for him anyway. However, as a matter of honesty and integrity he MUST keep his word and accept McCain's proposal to use public financing... The only attribute i ever thought he had over Hillary is straightforward honesty. DON'T GO BACK ON YOUR WORD!

    February 20, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  16. celine

    I am no American but Mccain looks more of a puppet that a real player who can score the ball into the net. He surely scares the hell out of me too cause then we will have world war 3.

    February 20, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. Will-South Dakota

    What is McCain afraid of? So he sucks more money from rich/wealthy Americans, big corporations, Special Interests and the lobbyists he owes something to. If Obama gets his campaign money from real average Americans who live in the real world and are more then willing to give, so what.

    February 20, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Think - FL

    Yea, obviously he's going to go down the same losing road that Clinton is now. Grabbing every silly little bit about Barack and spinning some overblown negative yarn about it.

    Barack didn't sign a contract. Get over it McCain't.

    February 20, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. Joe, Boston

    Obama once again trying to get away with something....he thinks just because he's young that he can get away with whatever he wants.

    February 20, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Cwer

    McCain is a flip-flopper! He changed positions on campaign finance reform, the tax cuts, torture, etc, etc....

    Do we really want 4 more years of a BUSH crony?

    February 20, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. Not Given

    Nixon wasn't as bad as MAC is.

    February 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Mara, NYC

    I wish they would take public financing. Then whoever wins, it proves they won on their own merits and not because they are buying the election. Not to mention it's kind of offensive to have these campaigns throwing around obscene amounts of money while the economy is tanking.

    February 20, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  23. Darth Vadik, CA


    YOU TELL PEOPLE (all 150 of them) WHAT OBAMA IS LIKE



    somebody fetch grandpa crazy his slippers.

    February 20, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  24. Jill Reynolds

    What do people think about an Obama & Colin Powell ticket?


    February 20, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  25. Rose, MD

    Obama has not commented on this because he has to complete the task of being the Dem nominee. Don't rush him McCain., he is trying to run an organized campaign here. He will get back to you when he is ready. You have not finish your taks either McCain, wait till you get all the 1191 delegates needed then you can start talking, for now you are not the nominee, at least not yet. You are trying to get you MBA and you haven't finished your 1st degree, in life there is order in doing things and Obama recognizes that.

    Thank you

    February 20, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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