April 9th, 2008
10:15 AM ET
13 years ago

McCain team hits Obama again on finance pledge


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/09/art.mccain.caphill.jpg caption=" The McCain campaign takes aim at Obama."]
(CNN) - John McCain's campaign is seizing on Barack Obama’s comments Tuesday night deriding the public financing system for presidential campaigns. A senior McCain adviser calls it the latest signal that the Democratic candidate may abandon a promise to participate in the system, should he become the Democratic nominee.

“It seems he is taking another step down the path of breaking his promise to the American people,” said McCain adviser Steve Schmidt. “Obama is running an increasingly negative campaign built on a foundation of untruthful attacks and broken promises. That is the type of politics Americans are sick of and John McCain is going to change.”

At a fundraiser Tuesday night, Obama told donors that “we have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide if they want to support a campaign they can get on the Internet and finance it, and they will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally reserved for the wealthy and the powerful."

Participating in the public financing system limits a candidate’s ability to spend campaign cash. McCain has promised to accept public funding only if his opponent does the same.

For the McCain campaign, criticizing Obama on this issue serves two purposes.

First, it serves to undermine Obama’s reformer message, which is the same theme McCain is running on, and gives them a means of painting the Illinois senator as a typical, untrustworthy politician.

“Barack Obama publicly promised the American people that he would accept public financing if he is the nominee of his Party," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. "Launching his campaign by going back on a promise to voters would be dishonest, and exposes his ‘politics of hope’ as empty rhetoric out of a typical politician.”

On a more practical level, it’s in McCain’s interest to push Obama to take public financing because the presumptive GOP nominee raises nowhere near as much money as Obama. Last month was one of McCain’s best in terms of fundraising - he pulled in $15 million. But over the course of the year to date, he has raised less than the $40 million that Obama did in the last month alone.

Last week, McCain's campaign returned $3 million in funds received from major donors towards general election expenses, and encouraged them to send the money to the Republican National Committee's Victory Fund instead - one of the strongest signals to date he intends to participate in the public financing system, which prohibits him from receiving those donations from individuals who have already contributed the $2,300 primary season maximum.

McCain first went after Obama on this issue in February, after Obama wrote an op-ed in USA Today proposing a "meaningful agreement in good faith that results in real spending limits.”

Then, McCain called that “Washington double-speak” and challenged the Democrat to keep what he calls a promise to participate in the public financing system. The Obama campaign responded by accusing McCain of abandoning new efforts at campaign finance reform, a McCain signature issue.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (146 Responses)
  1. Bukky

    McCain got to where he is now because MOST of his campaigns have been financed by HIS WIFE. We can't all be married to heiresses

    April 9, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. zia

    If we put all the emotion aside and think about it realistic and only based upon policy and what McCains says; he really is a war monger. Unfortunate, but true... The dictionary describes a warmonger as a person who "advocates, endorses, or tries to precipitate war". Thats McCain for you... and Bush always was. This puts Osama, bush and McCain in the same league.

    April 9, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Michael in Columbus, Ohio

    did they sign a contract on how they raised money, if not there is no room for commitment, McCain is just like bush, "Stay the Course" even if it leads to political death, and these peole got degrees, geesh i need to drop out of college and stick with common sense.

    Obama '08

    April 9, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. PB

    If Obama wants to prove that he is different and that we can trust what he says then he needs to prove it with his actions. It is very difficult to tell where he really stands on any issue because of his limited experience and his lack of action. His record of voting "present" rather than actually voting yea or nea shows how uncomfortable he is in taking a real stand and backing it up with action.

    He is a brilliant speaker full of great ideas but we really need someone who can do more than just stir our emotions and give us "hope". America needs results!

    April 9, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Austin

    If John McCain can change his views on the Bush Tax Cuts then Barack can accept public funds. Seem's pretty fair.

    April 9, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. Vig

    When are people going to wake up and smell the coffee – Obama talks as he thinks. That's all there is folks.

    April 9, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. fletc3her

    I understand that John McCain is currently in direct, criminal violation of the public financing system since he used public money as collateral on a loan, an action which locked him into taking public financing for the primaries, and then backed out on the system later. I think McCain should worry about his own criminal mismanagement of his campaign before he talks about anybody else's.

    April 9, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. JJ

    LOL Mcain is trying to run an Obama Campain! Obama would be stupid if he took "public financing".

    April 9, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. julie35

    Why are some of the Obama supporters so sure he will win? Why is his campaign run from a differant country, something wrong here!

    April 9, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. kathleen

    MR. John McCain, Hold on to your Arizona senate job, because
    these subjects you bring up are silly nonsense.

    Obama 2008

    April 9, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. kathleen

    MR. John McCain, Hold on to your Arizona senate job, because
    these subjects you bring up are silly nonsense.

    Obama 2008

    April 9, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. Ralph

    Poor McCain. His financial problems make Hillary look like she actually has money to campaign with.

    McCain! Hillary will need a new office to run for and she thinks you would make a fine president. Make her your VP, so we can get rid of the two of you with one pull of the lever.

    April 9, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. Uncle Sam

    The American people will either stand for something or fall for anything.

    April 9, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  14. Jenny

    Get real! Obama has every right to change his mind. It would be foolish to accept public financing when he has outraised John McCain (and Hillary Clinton) by appealing directly to the American people. He would be foolish to limit himself to public financing.

    This is a pretty weak argument by McCain.

    April 9, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  15. Amos

    Obama is just another politician America, can you not see that?

    Go go go! Hillary.

    April 9, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. Mia

    I think we should start this article with a copy of what Barack Obama really said – and let's just say he didn't graduate from Harvard a dummy. There were caveats to why he would or wouldn't accept public financing.

    I personally think 1.6 million people donating to your campaign is public financing!

    April 9, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. Sinbad

    can't raise that money old man?

    April 9, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. Christi

    McCain/Bush/Rove – they are positive??? McCain accusing Obama of being negative is as absurd as saying the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with oil!

    April 9, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. Democrats Are What's Left

    His senility hasn't told him that Sen. Obama ALREADY gets "public financing". It's called OVER 1 MILLION DONATIONS.

    Wake up old man, and please stay on your medication.

    April 9, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  20. Nunya

    Wake up people and pay attention to exactly what was said. He made no promise to use public financing. He promised to try to reach an agreement about it with the Republican nominee. Those are not the same.

    Even if he becomes the Democratic nominee, there is no guarantee of being able to reach such an agreement. And what you see now is the McCain camp declaring the precise terms of the agreement they want and harping on how Obama won't agree to that. That is nothing more than political posturing on their part – not a failure to negotiate in good faith by Obama.

    April 9, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. White woman

    sloganeering, Hillary goes around saying: Solutions, not speeches.
    since leaving office, her husband had made millions not by providing solutions to real problems, but from giving speeches.

    April 9, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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