April 11th, 2008
02:31 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama calls campaign finance system 'creaky'

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama described America's public campaign financing system as "creaky" Friday, and said it needs to be reformed in light of the rise of fundraising over the internet.

"I think that it is creaky," Obama said of the current system that is financed by $3 dollar checkoffs in tax returns. "The amount of money raised through the public financing system may be substantially lower than the amount of money that can be raised over the Internet, which presents candidates then with some pretty tough decisions in terms of how they want to move forward if they want to compete in as many states as possible."

Obama has raised over $230 million from about 1.3 million donors on the internet this year.

Earlier this week, Obama told an audience at a fundraiser that his campaign already has something similar to a publicly funded system.

"We have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide if they want to support a campaign they can get on the Internet and finance it," Obama said, according to a pooled report.

Asked whether he felt the current system of funding campaigns through public money was antiquated, Obama admitted, "It is creaky, and needs to be reformed if it's going to work."

But the White House hopeful was also asked Friday why he personally did not check off the box on his tax returns that would have indicated he'd contribute three dollars to the public fund.

"You know, I have always checked off $3 in the past so I'm going to have to talk to my accountant," Obama said. "That may have been an oversight or a mistake. In all my previous years I have, so I should find out what's going on there."

Obama had indicated last year - before his record-breaking internet fundraising success - that he would opt into public financing if he is the Democratic presidential nominee. But the Illinois senator has since backtracked, telling reporters Friday he would work with Sen. McCain "about how to move forward in a way that doesn't allow third parties to overwhelm the system."

Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for John McCain, said he expects Obama to keep his word in accepting public financing.

"We will always welcome an open discussion with Barack Obama, but he has clearly committed to public financing in the general election should he win his Party’s nomination, and we expect him to keep his word," Bounds said. "Any hedging or clever language from Senator Obama seems more like something you would read in a predatory home-loan, not the 'Audacity of Hope.'"


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. Dems2008

    Stop the hating. You Hillary people are ridiculous and without a base because they– McSame and Billary– are the most 'creaky' regarding campaign financing during this and previous elections!!

    April 11, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  2. LIz in ATL

    Let's think logically (vs. politically)....If you KNEW you could raise $300 million dollars to be used for YOUR success – and you were offered to limit YOUR success by using less money....would you???

    Would you limit yourself and your possibilites because your rival, opponent had less resources? I don't think so.... but then again after reading some of these blogs....I do recognize 'limits' on imagination. openness and facts....

    April 11, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. Bitter Floridian

    Apparently Obama makes wide sweeping generalizations about people to make himself look good. I'll tell you what's 'creeky" -The only thing this politician is able to use is Words, just words to get himself into and out of these problems.

    Reality = Obama is a politician, and he will tell you what you want to hear to get him elected.

    Fantasy = He cares about the American People

    Reality = Obama doesn't know America

    Reality = Obama's "change" remains unknown; an amorphic unquantifyable concept that gets tossed around to rally people to him.

    Fantasy = Obama's preacher is a crazy old man

    Reality = Rev Wright uses hate speech to get his point across and while Obama flipflops on whether he heard those hateful speeches, he made him an advisor to his campaign and then supports his hatespeech by throwing race under the bus, his white grandmother under the bus, and becomes black when he wants and white when he wants… The reality is his grandmother is his blood and you can't disown her, your spiritual advisor you can change, you can see a pastor who meets your needs (not use as a political polevault to the Illinois legislature, and ultimately US Senate).

    Fantasy = Obama thinks every vote should count

    Reality = Obama has done everything to disenfranchize Florida and Michigan voters and that is just down right unpatriotic, un American, and that makes me bitter!

    April 11, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. Kevin in DC

    Yeah, the system currently sucks. I NEVER check that box on the tax return; I only contribute to specific candidates.

    Why would ANYONE donate to any random political figure? That's democratic suicide. Better join the 21st century, McCain, or you're toast.

    April 11, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. Matt

    I really don't understand why people are attacking him for what he said about the people who lost their jobs in Pennsylvania. Is it only condescending because that's what your candidate told you?

    Try putting yourself in someone else's shoes who has lost their job to a foreign country. Don't you think you'd be a little upset? Why are people insisting that the word 'bitter' has a negative connotation? Stop playing politics. Seriously. Think for yourself for a change, not just repeating the attacks from McCain or that other candidate who's desperate to stay relevant.

    April 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  6. patricia

    NickNas ~~ you hit the nail on the head, and I am with you 100%. I am not even going to give to the Democratic General fund until I feel it will be supporting who I want to support. I wouldn't cross the street to give Hillary Clinton a dime to run her disasterous campaign much less to get her nominated. Think I'll go online and give yet another $25 to Senator Obama.

    April 11, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  7. Tell It Like It Is

    HERE'S A LITTLE FLIP-FLOP FOR YOU.

    "CREAKY" IS THAT ANYTHING LIKE "'FUZZY MATH"?

    WHEN WILL AN IVY LEAGUE EDUCATION BUY A VOCABULARY FOR OUR PRESIDENTS AND THEIR SUCCESSORS?

    April 11, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  8. merle 7

    McCain does not want Obama to have the edge of being able to campaign as hard as he sees fit in the fall if he's the noiminee. By trying to force him to take public financing. McCain probably feels that puts them on an even playing field. Well internet donations are public financing, but since McCain obviously can't compete with internet donations,he's trying to push this issue.

    Obama 08!
    Yes We Can!

    April 11, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  9. Disgruntled in Florida

    He wasn't complaining about this when he thought he might need it.

    There are only two things I dislike about Obama; his mouth. You never know which mouth on which side of his face he is going talk out of.

    April 11, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. Tanya K

    Obama will not be our next President. Sorry, he is just to arrogent and inexperienced to even get elected. His only supporters are obviously only the young crowd, you can tell by the immature comments.

    April 11, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  11. California girl

    Obama's arrogance continues to grow. He agreed to public funding and now wants to back out. He will now make up excuses as to why it should be his way. If this was Clinton, you guys would be all over her for going back on her word, but for Obama its okay.

    I also find Obama's comments about the people in rural PA insulting and condesending. Yes, you lose a job and you have to struggle to feed you family, you are frustrated. However to say those people cling to guns and religion…sounds like he is talking down to people who he see's as differant and basically accuses them of blaming their problems on everyone else. That is arrogant..I am sure he will give a speech and we will all be happy again, but the people of PA should be offended.

    Hillary 08

    April 11, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  12. Fendley

    I sincerely hope people are waking up and smelling the coffee, where Obama is concerned. Can you spell flip-flop? Who does he think he is. ? I know he is racist, elitist, ignorant, liar. Lord, help us if he suceeds. He is getting the big head, people have told him he is smart and he believes it,. Not humble, but what can you expect from an idiot?

    April 11, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  13. end game

    Obama bundlers support his funding to a greater extent then he is showing. 1/3 are by special interest bundlers... look it up.
    Back on his word once again. votes against himcan put him in his place, and show you can not buy an election.

    April 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. Tee

    Here we go again with those of you are incapable of decifering the truth from a lie. Look at what happened with previous elections where they (republicans) managed to cheat and win the election utilizing the "system". If I was Obama, I too would not use the committee's money, why? That's like you stealing and you're millionaire. For what... lets not be ignorant to the fact. Let's not talk all of the present senators, PRESIDENT...and many other public figures, that if were giving a drug or alcohol test ALL will probably fail. So let it go, we all have done some stupid things when were younger.

    April 11, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  15. Rasmus Sønderriis

    "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replacing them… And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has siad that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
    And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

    Right, it is not a very strategic thing to say in an election. But at least it shows that he has a good grasp of reality, and that he is tolerant and understanding, rather then sanctimonious and condemning. Or outright cynical, like Hillary.

    April 11, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. Bernice

    JUST THE WAY THAT HE HAS MANAGED HIS CAMPAIGN TELLS US HE IS INNOVATIVE AND WISE.

    HOW CAN THESE OTHERS CLAIM TO BE SO SAVVY WHEN THEY CAN NOT MANAGE CAMPAIGNS, THEY ARE FULL OF INFIGHTING TO INCLUDE NOT RAISING AS MUCH.

    OBAMA REALLY RAISED THE BAR IN NEW AGE CAMPAIGNING, THE OTHERS HAVE TRIED TO COPY TO NO AVAIL.

    EACH CAMPAIGN REFLECTS THEM.

    YU CAN BET WE WILL HEAR OF MORE CAMPAIGN FUNDS MISMANAGEMENT FROM THE CLINTON, THIS HAS BEEN THE CASE SINCE BILL'S DAYS CONTINUING THROUGH HILLARY'S SENATE RACE. RESEARCH IT. REMEMBER PETER PAUL! IS IT LEGAL FOR ELTON JOHN TO RAISE THAT MUCH MONEY FOR HILLARY. IS THERE NOT A LIMIT IN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS. I'M NOT SUR ABOUT THIS, BUT IT SURE GOT HER IN TROUBLE BEFORE. ISN'T SHE TO GO TO COURT SOON ABOUT THIS VERY THING!

    I ADMIT I DON'T FULLY KNOW THE RULES ON THIS, BUT I WILL BET YOU SOME MISHAP WILL COME UP IF NOT NOW LATER.

    April 11, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  17. Juli An

    Obama Supporters – You are NOT voting for CHANGE! You may like Barack better than Hillary – and you should vote for him because you like him better. But, again – you are NOT voting for CHANGE! Watch what he does – what he says & doesn't say – read his website thoroughly – listen to all his interviews, etc. Barack is NOT a candidate of CHANGE.

    April 11, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
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