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
This was bound to happen.
Great job Supreme Court...ridiculous
ah yes, the only thing this president has been good at... campaigning!! Change!! Change!!! I am Obama!! Change!! Change!!!
He flip-flopped on something he said? I'm shocked I tell you, SHOCKED!
Obama=Cheney's 3rd term in office. Nothing much has changed, te oil companies are still as always in control.
My check is on the way!
goooooood - give them a taste of their own medicine and talk out of both sides of your mouth. Everyone's does it.
Typical Obama...he does whatever benefits HIM the most.
Is anyone surprised by this flip-flop? This guy has been nothing but empty talk his entire presidency. What a joke. This experiment needs to end.
why not! go for it Mr. President.
I dont' blame him...with all the nastiness coming out of these superpacs, if I were the president I'd protect myself as well! Not until the republicans start acting like adults and stop lying, cheating and stealing...only THEN can we have a fair election. I say what's good for the goose is good for the gander!
Nothing new here, folks. Barack's not kept even one of his promises so far – he's a liar, just like the rest of them. Why should this come as a surprise?
"The Republican National Committee sharply criticized the decision. A spokesman, Joe Pounder, declared: “Yet again, Barack Obama has proven he will literally do anything to win an election, including changing positions on the type of campaign spending he called nothing short of ‘a threat to our democracy.’ ”
I agree that Obama has taken any and every side for votes and favors, however, I'm glad he decided to join in this reindeer games. He will lose, no matter what lies and tactics he employs. 8.4%? More like 15% (including those who gave up). Better economy? American Airlines will fire thousands of employees, while Borders closes its doors. Better healthcare? Premiums have gone up 10%, doctors are turning away high risk patients. Religion? Obama wages war on Catholics by forcing them to hand our contraceptions, while 13 year old girls are given contraceptive implants.
Good luck with the FACTS, Obama. 2012 will be November 2010 all over again, if conservatives vote in high numbers again.....
and we will.
Anything to win, even becoming a Republican.
Funny – Everything here is typically overwritten and with slanted bias. Guess CNN thought they had to report this, and wanted to keep it as simple as possible – as it truly is a negative for their candidate.
As a former Obama supporter I can only say that I'm not surprised at the President once again doing the opposite of his own promises.
It's too bad, but if this is the way of things now in politics, it would be ridiculous for Obama NOT to start a Super PAC. Hypocrite? More like realist.
If you can't beat them, join them
Some will say that he's joining in because the Republicans are doing it...but if all your friends are jumping off a bridge, would you then be willing to say, "Oh shoot, I know I said I wouldn't, but I just gotta!"
Out with ALL hypocrites from all parties!!!
Just b/c he's for it.... doesn't mean he wanted it. He's forced into it! If the other guy is using it and raisin 100's of millions.. do you just want him to sit on the sideline and say this is wrong while he gets trounced on by corporation money.
I am disappointed that Obama has now endorsed PACS. These are nothing but influence-seeking businesses and organizations. Not necessary to go down this road.
Obama has not only flip flopped on this issue but his campaign has been talking directly to people about donating to this "super pac". This is a violation of campaign finance laws and arrests and fines should be happening. The fact is that nobody in the history of America has spent more money on campaigning than Obama did in the last election and this election he will swamp the last one.
A politician who does an about-face when it benefits him? I've never heard of such a thing.
So when he feels the heat he does a flip flop! These PAC's are the ones who are going to do all the dirty mud slinging and Obama said that he was "above all that" just a few months ago. What changed? Or was that just another lie and broken promise?
You cant bring a knife to a gun fight because you don't like guns. He has to play on their level even if he does not agree with it.
It's a beautiful song, originally written in the '50s I believe. It's called "Desperation". I hear it wafting gently from the White House grounds.
On a more serious note, if candidates are supposed to be completely unaffilated with these Super PACs, is someone looking into the legality of people employed in the White House, whose salaries are paid by the American taxpayer, working directly in support of this?
Can't let principles get in the way of success, amiright?