Washington (CNN) – According to several participants on a conference call with major bundlers late Monday night, Barack Obama’s re-election campaign encouraged donors to fundraise for a Democratic super PAC supporting the president, marking an about-face on Obama’s position toward outside spending groups.
Obama has been an outspoken critic of current campaign financing laws, in particular a Supreme Court ruling that allowed the creation of super PACs. Until now he has kept his distance from the group, Priorities USA Action.
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But in the wake of the group's anemic fundraising, made public last week, the campaign changed its position. Earlier Monday, it announced to members of its national finance committee that it will use administration and campaign officials as surrogates at PAC events.
On the call, a campaign official made clear that after donors contribute the maximum amount allowed to the Obama campaign, fundraisers should encourage donors to give to Priorities USA, according to a source who was on the call.
"Bundlers" are fundraisers who solicit campaign contributions from their personal and business networks. The total raised is considered bundled through the individual.
Campaign officials gave guidance on practices and policies, stressing the importance that super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating with campaigns.
Another bundler questioned the effectiveness of the new approach, explaining every large donor of means had already been approached for a donation by Priorities USA. This fundraiser said the campaign formally pulled back the curtain last night but most high-profile contributors had already been pressed in person to donate to the super PAC.
The source also said Priorities USA held its own cocktail party for heavy hitters at a national finance committee meeting six months ago.
"This decision was not made overnight," one campaign official said. "The money raised and spent by Republican super PACs is very telling. We will not unilaterally disarm."
Additional concern about Republican spending versus Democratic super PAC spending was expressed on the campaign call Monday night, underlining the group's need to turn up the pressure and meet its fundraising goals, a source said.
Through the third party groups, Democrats and Republicans can run negative ads without the candidates they support signing off at the end of the commercials, as they’re required to do in ads paid for by the campaigns.
Super PACs can put distance between the president and attacks on his Republican opponent. On Monday, senior administration officials reaffirmed that they believe the race will be close.
Parallels to the president’s change of heart on campaign finance were also seen in the last election cycle. In the 2008 race, he initially embraced public financing but became the first candidate to reject it. Obama then went on to make history raising $750 million for his campaign.
Since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for super PACs, Obama has been an outspoken critic of the effect they have on politics.
In October of that year, shortly before the mid-term elections, the president lambasted the role of outside spending groups, particularly those that are not required to disclose its donors.
"This isn't just a threat to Democrats," he said. "This is a threat to our democracy."
Some Republicans, meanwhile, have already hit back with charges of hypocrisy on the president's turnaround on the issue.
"Just another broken promise," House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday when asked about the change.
The conservative groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which plan to raise $300 million to help defeat Obama and his agenda in November, also responded.
In an e-mail blast, Jonathan Collegio, the groups' spokesman, called the Obama campaign's move a "brazenly cynical" reversal.
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Rocky Mountain High expectations
obama changed his mind, wow can you believe it, just another lie from a wanna be dictator of FREE AMERICA, stop this regime and its treason
He sold out during the last election. We're an "owned by the 1%" country. One man, one vote. One corporation, as many votes as they have bucks.
What else is new? Obama ALWAYS says one thing and does the exact opposite. He did it with public financing of his campaign in 2008. How anybody can believe anything this lying hypocrite says?
In order for the President to compete, he's gotta be playing on a even playing field. When you have donors such as the Adelson's contributing 10 million dollars to Newt in less than a week, it just goes to show you how corrupted our political process has become.
The fight is going to take A LOT of money. They want you to fall on your sword to prove a point. Screw them.You've taken the high road all these years while they made out like bandits by lying and rolling in the mud.
Get your money Mr. President. I'm just sorry you waited this long.
a campaign official made clear that after donors contribute the maximum amount allowed to the Obama campaign, fundraisers should encourage donors to give to Priorities USA, according to a source who was on the call.
This is classic Obama. He gets up on his high horse talking about values and integrity but then when the rubber hits the road he quickly and conveniently forgets everything he said.
This is just like when he absolutely promised he would make ObamaCare a bipartisan bill and that it would not be passed using exotic political manuevers like reconciliation...exactly what was used and what he signed.
Why does he even get up and say (...or actually read ) stuff? His words mean nothing. We know that over and over.
Good move Mr President Obama. If the Republican can have a super pac. why not have a Democratic super PAC supporting the president.
Media tryting so hard to change this into something it is not. Still not for the idea, Still thinks the law is wrong, realizes he will have to do this to compete with an opponent that does it. Hardly a reversal at all.
Once again, Obama demonstrates he's just another politician. He was against it until he was for it.
I am sending some money to re-elect this president. Because, I am scared of these idiotic Republicans sell this nation to China, India, Bangladesh, etc, for Greed. Obama2012.
Fight fire with fire I guess.
Criticize the hypocrisy all you like, but such is the corrupt outcome of Citizens United.
By the way, I expect liberals to do all the criticizing. Based on previous posts here, I expect conservatives to love the smell of all this "free speech" in the morning, que non?
It proves once again.. He has no principles. It was the same when candidate Obama changed his mind about taking public money. Obama has been a disaster as a President. Let's hope he isn't reelected.
Who has had trouble raising funds? "But in the wake of the group's anemic fundraising, made public last week, the campaign decided to change its position, and announced the new stance to members of its national finance committee Monday evening."
the flip flop in chief.this guy never knows what to do.what a shame.
As the president has said before – you don't bring a knife to a gun fight.
Isn't this the same as "flip-flopping". Well, Gov. Romney at least he can't use the flip flop line on you anymore! He would look like a hypocrite wouldn't he?
Mitt & Marco 2012
You mean Obama is doing something he said he would not do? I guess that is better than not doing something he promised he would do.
This latest decision should end any doubts about this hypocritical Flip Flopper-in-Chief. This man is the biggest liar to ever reside in the White House.
So much for Hope and Change and transparency.
America, don't let this man buy another election, again!!!
Why do you say past tense, "once denounced"? Suppose that you denounce nuclear weapons, and then your enemy turns around and starts stockpiling them up like snowballs. Are you going to jstand there and just watch them go at it until they use them to destroy you? No, you are going to start making your own pile of snowballs.
Guess your getting worried that you can't just win on a speech and a smile.
Good news. It's time for the gloves to come off. FOUR MORE YEARS!
I can't wait for the GOP crybabies. Romney is obviously going to rely heavily on this tactic, Obama has to follow suit.
Well, well, well, could it be that Obama supporters have had a change of heart. Could it be that Obama will fall very, very short of his planned one billion dollar campaign mark. Could it be that Wall Street sees the hand righting on the wall.
Guess Obama realizes he can't just win on a speech and a smile.