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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Fantastic news. Fight fire with FIRE. I can't wait to see the crying from the GOP about this.
Good for you President Obama. As long as it's done in accordance with the law, which is what you support, I say go for it. The Repubs blocked the limits on campaign spending bill in the senate with a fillibuster, because they wanted to use it to their advantage. Of course, in accordance with the law doesn't apply to them, just everyone else.
Take full advantage of it, and get the 4 more years you deserve.
Actually it is a brilliant move! Watch now as all Republikans rush to condemn super PACs and demand legislation to make them illegal.
Do as I say not as I do. Hypocrisy at its best.
He is getting desperate. Has a weak domestic record on which to run and a powerful challenger in Romney. And of course he is doing an about face, he has lied on so many issues.
You mean Obama's changing his position on something? Really? Can't believe he would say one thing, and then do the complete opposite. (this entire post is sarcastic, if you're too slow to pick that up)
'Change of heart' my tailbone. How about waffle, wishy-washy, unsure, incompetent, no clue. This is the only kind of change Bama is capable of. This amature statesman is all over the map and it's not all about us, it's all about him. Get the kid out of the big office and put a get-it-done straight talking man in there while we still have something left to care about.
Why let the GOP Super PAC's have all of the fun? I bet the GOP will cry foul if Priorities USA raises more money then their guys.
They intend to use administration and campaign officials as surrogates at these pac events?? This is entirely against the law.
Great that other countries can now buy America Dream too, and turn it into a nightmare for average Americans.
But I guess that's what happens when you export USA freedoms to every corner of the world.
Your belief in taking the high road is honorable, Mr. President. However, with all the scummy antics being played by the Republican candidates and their super Pacs against one another, and witnessing how influential they have been in the outcomes, who could blame you. Fight fire with fire, and be done with these GOP fools.
Just one more sign this is a ONE TERM PRESIDENT. Romney 2012/Tea Party
It's kinda of sad Obama has to play the same game as republicans to defend his image. Politics need a major overhaul.
Guess they sort of have to....like the Cold War, each party has to outdo the other in spending......just wonder when this whole thing will blow!
who is surprised!!!!
The Supreme Court made a terrible decision in allowing corporations to be classified as "people" so that they can give unlimited amounts of cash( even anonymously) to campaigns.This has opened the door to our elections being compromised and bought by the wealthiest people and groups with agendas.The president doesn't agree with this, but he probably realizes that he needs an equalizer.Both sides have to play by the same rules, or one side is going to get trounced, in this case, being the president, if he doesn't take money from SuperPacs.
This is just like any other politician...all talk but when it affects them they change their tune....irony at it's finest.
Nothing like Hypocrite, writ large.
This isn't surprising, considering Obama's about face on public funding for his campaign in the last election. Typical politics, through and through. That's not to say the Reps are any better, but at least they didn't campaign on being different. No hope, no change, so no Obama in 2014.
you cant beat them join them good move, fight fire with fire
This man is something else. This change that he promise. Like small communist agitator.
Who is surprised?
I'm glad he did this. Otherwise all you would see on TV this summer would be anti-Obama ads.
What do you know, another promise or statement disregarded or broken by good old B.O. I mean, is a billion dollars not enough for his campaign that he now needs Super PAC help? This man is garbage.
Just because you oppose guns, doesn't mean you bring a knife to a gunfight. And just because you are against the influence of Super PACs and their creation doesn't mean you go up against them without your own. Between the Koch Brothers and Newt's Casino godfather (who's already said he'll support Mitt should he be the nominee)... you gotta play the game by the rules and not just by your ideals. <- Proud Progressive Democrat and looking forward to being called a socialist by the trolls.