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
hahaha ... yes, because $1 BILLION just won't be enough for Obama to con the American people, spread his lies and try to slither his way to victory. I hope the anti-Obama SuperPACs flood the airwaves with Obama's countless past speeches and interviews that have all proven to be lies and broken promises. In 2008, American was promised "Hope & Change", but instead got "Failure & Lies".
I'm afraid he has no choice but go the super pac route. You don't bring a knife to a gun fight.
I don't think there will be any campaign reform until after this election. At this point already, the Republicans are beginning to regret the Citizens United decision after getting a taste of their own medicine in the primaries. Perhaps there will be some bipartisan support for fixing the way campaigns are run.
LOL. Now we all officially know. BO is not the "post racial" president. He is not driven by principles. He will not keep his campaign promises. He will not keep general promises. He is a POLITICIAN, like every president before him. He wants what every 1st term president wants – a 2nd term. He is not special. he is not different – in any way! Grow up. Except the fact that you were duped with his hype machine. He is a liar, like every president before him. Now we can all focus on his real record and re-elect him or dump him in November, based on the real criteria Americans have used for over 200 years. The pop culture "he's different" nonsense is gone.
typical...do as I say, not as I do. NOPE 2012
What, Obama is flip-flopping? Guess he won't be able to go after Romney for flip-flopping now.
Hopefully, we will here nothing from his lips again relative to his disdain for lobbyist, special interest groups, and the issue of business as usual in Washington D.C.
I cant wait to hear the thuglican out cry !!! How dare Obama play by the same set of rules, This is an outrage !!!!
With most people being so dumb that they will believe anything they're told, you can't just let evil people shout you down with lies. The challenge is to shout back the truth, rather than more lies. We'll see how the Dems do with that.
Oh wow – the hypocrisy is SOOOOO thick... how ya libbies like that, your messiah is showing his TRUE colors!!! Do as he says, not as he does!!!
Hey, if you can't beat em. Things stink, but what's a guy to do?
Be more efficient if these guys would just bid on our votes and buy them from us directly. Help with my budget shortfalls too.
Well let's see, is he against PACS and influence buying- well no but he said he was. Is he against favoritism and handing out money to friends well ne but he said he was. Is he really any different thant all the rest – well not except he will give away far more to buy your vote.
I don't understand the judgement of political figures in our country any more. We are simply governed by money and money unfortunately is governed by greed. Acting surprised when the system and its players fulfill the greed mantra is like acting surprised that spring follows winter. It is the order of things and the only escape is in a new system not a new politician regardless of how you like their bs filled pep talks.
Way to represent the american people... Hipocracy is not dead in washington !
This is Obama's biggest mistake in office.
This is Obama's biggest mistake so far.
I guess Obama is getting desperate because his call for $3.00 on line donations are not yielding enough. He had the gall to rip the Supreme Court Justices at his State of the Union for allowing Super Pac's, now he is turning his cheek and saying it is okay, he needs the extra money. He argues that he "deserves a second term", he must first earn that right, in my opinion he has done nothing to earn a second term all he has done is put us deeper in debt.
Imagine that! Hey, at least he's finally being openly "transparent" about something.
Barack... I just don't know about this. We're supposed to be the good guys. I guess I understand that not wielding an extremely powerful political weapon can have disastrous consequences, but I'd have preferred to beat them without it.
The president recently cited support for the principles of Teddy Roosevelt. One of TR's foundational principles was to never, under any circumstances, compromise one's ideals for the sake of political convenience. Well, it appears the current president likes to pick and choose among the principles of those he so conveniently quotes.
And you people that post here think Republicans are the only lying, cheating, hypocrites. Obama is a sleezeball.
Based on the Crook brothers dumping tens of millions each and a goal of 100 million for attack ADs, Obama absolutely has to use Super Paks to help level the field.
No surprise. He is special interest group tied, so why not be upfront about it. I so wasted my vote on him the last time around.
Why does he make every good reason to vote for him an opportunity to prove he is just like every other lying politician that ever promised to be "different". If he's not going to bother to really "change" the system, I'm not going to bother to vote for him