February 15th, 2008
07:30 PM ET
12 years ago

McCain challenges Obama to keep his word on public financing

Sen. McCain challenged his Senate colleague to take public financing.

Sen. McCain challenged his Senate colleague to take public financing.

OSHKOSH, Wisconsin (CNN) – Nearly a year after Barack Obama called on all of his potential general election foes to sign on to a public financing pact, likely GOP nominee John McCain accused the Illinois senator of having a change of heart sparked by his massive fundraising haul.

“It was very clear to me that Sen. Obama had agreed to having public financing of the general election campaign if I did the same thing,” said McCain at a Wisconsin campaign stop Friday. “I made the commitment to the American people that if I were the nominee of my party I would go the route of public financing, I expect Sen. Obama to keep his word to the American people as well.”

Under the agreement, both men would have to forgo private donations entirely in favor of a publicly-funded campaign.

At this point, McCain stands to gain the most from a public financing pledge – Obama has raised nearly three times as much in general election funds. Under the guidelines, both men would be required to return any money they had raised for that contest.

On Friday, Obama seemed to avoid committing to the agreement. "It would be presumptuous of me to start saying now that I'm locking myself into something when I don't even know if the other side is going to agree to it."

Last year, both Obama and his campaign promised to “aggressively pursue” such an agreement with their Republican counterpart. No major party candidate has opted out of the public financing system for the general election since it was created more than three decades ago.

McCain had decided to accept public financing of his primary season campaign last summer – but eventually opted out of the system before accepting funds because it would have limited the amount he would be allowed to spend to $54 million until the Republican Party’s nominating convention this summer.

That scenario promised to seriously handicap his effort if he were to become his party’s nominee and face a well-funded opponent with no spending limits.

–CNN’s Tasha Diakides, Chris Welch and Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. Richard, Ewing, NJ

    Barack Obama persuded the public fiancing pact at the time because he did not know he would raised more money than everyone. Now, that he is better than everyone in private campaign donation, he will not forsake his advantage.

    February 15, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  2. Aln

    As the above comments suggest, this is a serious matter. I'm already sensing a feeling of 'buyer's remorse' over Obama, and I believe that a slide is coming up with these states that are leaning Clinton at this time. If Obama decides to back out of his earlier commitment and rely only on private donors, it would be a very bad precedent.

    February 15, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. nancy

    McCain challenges Obama to keep his word- that's interesting.
    McCain has flip flopped on amnesty to securing the boarder, no tax cuts to yes tax cuts, so why should financing his campaign be any different? He just saw a way of making Obama go against what he said in the past and cant resist calling him on it. Obama goes out of his way not to commit to anything but hope so he can't be called on it later. Sometimes having no expience is an advantage. Charisma and lack of experience is no reason to win but the young will never vote for anyone Mc Cain's age so we are in trouble!.

    February 15, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  4. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    What a bunch of anti-Obama rhetoric. You ae all speculating as he hasn't even made a decision yet.

    So Jay, you would vote for him in 2008, and then if he didn't know what he was doing you wouldn't re-elect him? Huh?

    Obama/Edwards in 2008!

    February 15, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  5. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    John McCain isn't the front running in funding from active military people. Fact: Active military people gave Ron Paul the most money, Barack Obama second, John McCain third and Hillary last. John McCains expectation of staying in Iraq for 100 years isn't something our military supports. No more Bush wars and policies is what our military is saying and we all need to listen. Vote Obama. McCain is Bush in sheeps clothing and he'll bring Jeb Bush along with him.

    February 15, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  6. Papa Roach

    I like it when John McCain walks right into Momma's trap. If McCain don't think we can raise three times as much for Obama in the General Elections he got a shell shock of a surprise coming his way.

    February 15, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  7. Peter Cananda 4 Obama!

    Martin please find time to read Obama's plan and solutions for our country.

    Do not criticize anyone if you not sure of what you saying , if makes you look like a foolish person.
    Mike maybe you consider talking to the parent of the student gun man why they bought him a gun, or why do they not bringup their son in a right way as you Mike.

    Most of you just want to post irrelevant comment on the blog and you think it is funny.
    I am all the way in Canada supporting your next president and you are out there saying bull words against your next president.
    Do you think it is a fight? It is a campaign period and if you want food to fall from heaven, you will die of hunger. He's been telling you that it is not going to be easy to fix the country that he will need everyone commitment to succeed and he encourages you to standup for yourself and for your country.

    After all he didn't give bush permition to go to war where all the country money have been wasted. Do you think president Bush ate the money? Hillary and other gave him support to use every necessary means against Iraq and he did. Will you blame Bush for misusing American money ing Iraq.?
    Obama is about to change all that ,when you realized that you have no choice but to join the wagon for new life in America

    February 15, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  8. kevin

    Maybe America will wake up and see the true Obama ! He lies and misrepresents Hillary and John Mc Cain, sends out misleading fliers. Accepts contributions from Lobbyists and condems everyone else.. I'm a republican and can't wait until the rupublican party takes the gloves off... Good Bye Barack Husein Obama!!

    February 15, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  9. Bess

    I wonder if slandering and ripping Obama apart in print will really put Mr. McCain in the White House?

    It's not working for Hillary.

    Why would it work for McCain? The slicker the attacks the more votes he will lose...especially from his own party...just my opinion.

    February 15, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. Sylvia

    CNN you are such a sad excuse for a media outlet. Why don't you just go ahead and tell the people the truth. You WANT Obama to go against McClain then you will unleash the dogs of hell against him giving the Republicans the White House.
    Sad the American people drink the Kool-Aid you feed them.
    Obama is yor puppet for now but only until you knock Hillary out. Obama is so stupid he just plays along like a deer in the headlights.

    February 15, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  11. Ennis, LA

    Obama should ignore McCain's ravings. This loser can't

    even unite his own party as Huckabee's hanging in there

    and still winning states.

    February 15, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  12. Dave Schrader, Stillwater, OK

    Wait a minute...McCain is asking Obama to keep a "promise" he's already broken. If McCain had kept his promise, his campaign would have ended last summer.

    February 15, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  13. neil

    That is some of the worst thinking ever. Okay so in the middle of Obama vs. Hilary a going broke McCain now wants Obama to live up to a promise that he initially declined?

    That's the same a hilary changing up the rules in the midst of everything and trying to request the dlegates of florida and michigan being seated despite agreements prior.

    February 15, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  14. U.S. Army Vet.

    Truth is the power of Obama's message. No one man has all of the answers to all of the problems we face as a nation, but it takes one man to start looking for all of the solutions. The is the core of Obama's message and vision. The true beauty of Obama's vision is that we all are enlisted to find the solutions with him.

    The question I have for all of you is this: I do you want someone else, Hillary the elitist and/or McCain the clown, to solve your problems; or do you want to be involved in finding the solutions to your problems? In other words, are you mindless sheep, or are you intelligent men and women who know what is to participate in life and politics. If you are the former, then join the military and you can be told what to do for your entire life.

    February 15, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  15. gene

    Well, we have been talking about the inexperience of Obama and this is going to be a great example. He should be forced to amswer that question now. It would be a great question for the Texas CNN debate. When he is not giving a speech and has to answer a hard question, he tends to stutter and gets that "deer in the headlight" look. It hard to believe that he might and I say might be running for President in the general election. What the republican attack machine will do to him will not be a pretty sight. It will be "R" rated and not fit for children.

    February 15, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  16. Wake Up!!!

    MY, MY what a pickel Obamais in. Does he do the right thing or does he FLip Flop... He wants to win I call flip-flop any takers? I applaud Mccain for wanting to start out with Public funds but it would have been a dum move on his part. No one during the primaries would dream of it with money haulers like Romney, Clinton and Obama. Can't blame McCain for wanting a fighting chance. Know that what is, is what do you say Obama. Can you servive with out Oprah Money!

    February 15, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  17. RP

    Hmmm... so McCain was against tax cuts first and now he changed his mind. He is courting the conservative base and must therefore "adjust" some of his previous stances. That's fine. Anyone should be able to change their mind in the light of new realities as long as you can argue convincingly.

    So Obama faces a new reality too and he can change his mind about public financing as well. I just wish that McCain could change his mind about Iraq...

    February 15, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  18. just adjust

    i don't care how old a woman is, but i believe that you should fight fire with fire, if he's charasmatic, be the best charmer you can be hillary and you will attract america, how about another academy awards performance, a little tear, a little smile, call on oscar de la renta clothes can make a difference YOU KNOW! don't forget the stilettos!

    February 15, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  19. akaDoug

    Another desperate attempt from the Republicians to get HRC the Dem. nomination. Why??!! Because they know that McCain would trounce her in the general! Give me Obama, give me Gore, give me anybody that would win against the Republicians...unfortunately that's not Clinton!

    The new Republician (and HRC) strategy; start throwing mud in the hopes Obama with start to wallow in it.

    February 15, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  20. Peter Cananda 4 Obama!

    Why will Obama commit to a thing when other candidate refused to recognize?
    He wants it but other rejected it and now McCain wants to use it against Obama when himself did not commit to it. I think McCain need a better negative attack and you Obama haters you should read aticle carfefully before handing down your hatred.

    February 15, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. WH, Illinois

    Obama's starting to show his true colors again, though I doubt the Obamamaniacs or the media will give it any serious attention. If anything, the media and his supporters will spin it asking why would he agree to do it at all knowing that it will make it more difficult for him to get elected. If that were Hillary people would be accusing her of not keeping to her word and call her behavior manipulative and corrupt. The hypocrisy is ridiculous.

    If Obama challenged, and initially agreed, to only use public financing then he should keep his promise. He chastises Hillary for going back on her word about things that she had previously agreed to, but he's just as dishonest as she is because he does the same thing. What's wrong with a level playing field?? What is he afraid of? Isn't he the person who gives all these "inspirational" speeches that talk about fairness and equality??? What a load of crap.

    I know all politicians lie in order to try to get themselves elected, but Obama is the only one who tries to portray himself as a person who is above all of that.....and people actually believe it. It's amazing how blind people can be when they are feeling desperate. For those of us who see through his manipulative, corrupt, deceitful, and coniving behavior we are doing ourselves a favor by not voting for this guy. For those of you who cannot or will not look at this man for what he is.....and he does somehow get elected....you will only have yourselves to blame when the brown stuff hits the fan.

    February 15, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  22. martin

    As an Obama supporter, I find it sad that Hillary's supporters have taken her lead & started slamming a qualified candidate who has run a perfect campaign to date. But either way, good luck.

    On the financing, what a tough spot. He has more money to lose than anyone if he sticks to it. He would raise 30 million a month if he forgoes the deal. McCain would be lucky to crack 10 million a month. As a Democrat, I just want either Democrat to win, so I would love that advantage. But, he did say he would honor it, so I think he has to, but man, thats a rock and a hard place. Glad I don't have to decide..

    February 15, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  23. ruby marshall

    The REAL OOBAMA will come out into the open as soon as he will be chosen as the nominee in the Democratic party..Republicans will find a way to criticize him just as what they did with Hillary...
    Let's see and watch out folks....

    February 15, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  24. james

    This guy must be freaked about Obama if he needs to dig this deep already to make an attack before the party even has a clear front runner. Either that or he's worried he's about to fall under the shadow of the Democratic debate. Does anything McCain says right now even matter?

    February 15, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  25. austin

    Mr. John Lewis Grow up.
    It is people like John Lewis that make peaple think twice when dealing with black people. He has been bought by some individuals and that why he is change his vote from Clinton to Obama. shame on you Mr. Lewis.

    Buffalo, N.y.

    February 15, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
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