April 11th, 2008
02:31 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama calls campaign finance system 'creaky'

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama described America's public campaign financing system as "creaky" Friday, and said it needs to be reformed in light of the rise of fundraising over the internet.

"I think that it is creaky," Obama said of the current system that is financed by $3 dollar checkoffs in tax returns. "The amount of money raised through the public financing system may be substantially lower than the amount of money that can be raised over the Internet, which presents candidates then with some pretty tough decisions in terms of how they want to move forward if they want to compete in as many states as possible."

Obama has raised over $230 million from about 1.3 million donors on the internet this year.

Earlier this week, Obama told an audience at a fundraiser that his campaign already has something similar to a publicly funded system.

"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," Obama said, according to a pooled report.

Asked whether he felt the current system of funding campaigns through public money was antiquated, Obama admitted, "It is creaky, and needs to be reformed if it's going to work."

But the White House hopeful was also asked Friday why he personally did not check off the box on his tax returns that would have indicated he'd contribute three dollars to the public fund.

"You know, I have always checked off $3 in the past so I'm going to have to talk to my accountant," Obama said. "That may have been an oversight or a mistake. In all my previous years I have, so I should find out what's going on there."

Obama had indicated last year - before his record-breaking internet fundraising success - that he would opt into public financing if he is the Democratic presidential nominee. But the Illinois senator has since backtracked, telling reporters Friday he would work with Sen. McCain "about how to move forward in a way that doesn't allow third parties to overwhelm the system."

Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for John McCain, said he expects Obama to keep his word in accepting public financing.

"We will always welcome an open discussion with Barack Obama, but he has clearly committed to public financing in the general election should he win his Party’s nomination, and we expect him to keep his word," Bounds said. "Any hedging or clever language from Senator Obama seems more like something you would read in a predatory home-loan, not the 'Audacity of Hope.'"

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. John Smith

    Wolf, why is it the case that Obama supporters on most of the blogs are actively trying to educate or inform Hillary supporters? Is it the case that Hillary's supporters cannot do their own research and form independent and informed opinions? Also, Hillary supportes should stop typing in "upper case letters." Please let them know that it means that they are "shouting" at their audience. We are tired of Bill pointing his fingers at us, "I never.. to that woman.."

    April 11, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Letha, Sioux Falls, SD

    He said he would use the "public" financing but now he wont. Can it be he gets a lot of money from the big corporations who are famous for bundling the money under the employees names? Not counting some of the biggest lobbyists on his on his team. One is former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle who isn't recruiting superdelegates for the Illinois senator, he's advising lobbying giant Alston & Bird, with its long list of pharma and financial clients. This is just one of OUR former senators who works as advisory.

    April 11, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Norma, MN

    Creaky means antiquated. The system is aging. After his successful campaign, he would know what works.

    And he's right.

    Obama 08

    April 11, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. NickNas

    I stopped doing the TAX return type donations because I am not going to pay rich rich people to run AND I want to CHOOSE who I support.

    Obama has TRUE public funding and I think it should be the only way to run. ONLY real people and average $98 bucks at a time.

    April 11, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. Diane, MN

    Oh Suzy, take your meds, you'll get over it.

    He's not an idiot, and he will be your next president.

    Obama 08

    April 11, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Debbie

    Obama's inexperience is showing more and more every day. He is not worthy of the office. He has terrible judgement, and a very hard time telling the truth. Just one lie after the next. He should drop out.

    April 11, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |

    He also said this about "Small Town Pennsylvanians...

    'And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations"

    What an elitist..............he's got some major issues for a general election....
    GO HILLARY!!!!

    April 11, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  8. John G

    About the only low-life this guy won't take contributions from is Larry Sinclair. At least not anymore anyway!

    April 11, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Steve

    From one Minnesotan to another, think about this. Clinton still holds the lead in the superdelegate race. Come convention, things will still not be decided. Whoever is nominated, the other half of the party will be angry, and many of them will go for McCain. Unless he does something completely stupid, McCain will stroll into the presidency in November

    April 11, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. Sallie Mae

    GO OBAMA!!! We agree with you wholeheartedly! I mean... when you're right..you're right! & you are RIGHT! Whoo hoooooooo!

    April 11, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  11. peter

    Big donors are among Obama's backers, read the washington post article about Obama's big donors. No information here.

    April 11, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. california voter

    i wish all this money being raised was being used for something more than tv commercials and transportation back and forth across the u.s. ... there are so many needy people, so many worth causes. do the candidates need to keep raising the stakes higher and higher and higher?

    April 11, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. Cynthia, Laguna Niguel, CA

    Money does not buy votes! I still check the 3.00 box every year and support Mrs. clinton. Because she is and will work for you!

    Clinton -08

    April 11, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. Bruce

    So, he won't scream foul then when the big corporations and the big fat cat republicans buy the election for McCain? Obama has touted how he plays be the rules, if these are the rules he wants to play by he would best remember that there are some very, very wealthy people that can and will BUY this election – oh wait, I think he thinks they are going to BUY it for him.

    April 11, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. Ruth Mctizic

    If Obama's 1.3 million donors want to see that he has enough money to sucessfully compete in the general election....what's wrong with him refusing the limited 85 million. If Mccain could compete in fund raising this would not be an issue....he only want Obama to accept this limited amount to prevent any reasonable amount of campaigning in all 50 states..... I admire Sen. Obama's approach and
    respect for all Americans...He has not chosen to skip state in favor of larger ones. He has demonstrated that all states and their residents matter. Sen. Obama is the president that Americans have needed for a long time.

    April 11, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. DM Arlington, TX

    Can we use the Public Finance Dollars to pay down on our Debts. If McCain had been more sucessful he would not accepted Public Financing.

    April 11, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. HILLARY!

    McCain already is responding to Obama's lovely comment about "Those People" in small town Pennsylvania.....what an elitist....he and Michelle really do make a pair....I guess they both believe they are her to educate all us regular folk about our frustrations.......

    'And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations"

    Boy, BO is surely in trouble with this one....:)
    GO HILLARY......

    April 11, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  18. Cathy

    For all the people who insist on bringing up Rev. Wright, I would put money on it that you have never listened to the full 40 minute sermons but only basing your opinion on the two minute sound bites. So, I challenge you to go listen to the FULL sermons (Confusing God and Government and The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall). After you have listened to the sermons then tell me where the hate is because there is no hate in those sermons. I am so tired of people commenting on something they only have only two minutes of knowledge. Those sound bites DO NOT reflex the true meaning of the sermons. Go listen to them....

    Educate and inform yourself instead of relying on CNN and YouTube to give you all the facts.

    April 11, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Adam - TX

    You didn't seem to have an issue with the policy 6 months ago? What's changed, Barack? Oh yeah, your views on every substantive issue....

    April 11, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. liar liar, pants on fire

    Cinton supporters...poor losers, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

    April 11, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. pakuna

    Obama's campaign financing company is not located in the United States. Now you know why he will not back talk Canada.

    April 11, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. Becky

    Obama has NOT taken money from oil companies. He has taken the legal amount of money from INDIVIDUALS who work for Shell, Texaco, etc. It could be a service station attendant, but according to these posters criteria, it would be oil money. He has even returned money that came from registered lobbyists.

    If he can get funds from individuals, that accomplishes the same thing as public financing,; the absence of corporations and lobbyists.

    April 11, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. OlvrWhit

    Obama's arrogance continues to grow. He agreed to public funding and now wants to back out. He will now make up excuses as to why it should be his way. If this was Clinton, you guys would be all over her for going back on her word, but for Obama its okay.

    I also find Obama's comments about the people in rural PA insulting and condesending. Yes, you lose a job and you have to struggle to feed you family, you are frustrated. However to say those people cling to guns and religion...sounds like he is talking down to people who he see's as differant and basically accuses them of blaming their problems on everyone else. That is arrogant..I am sure he will give a speech and we will all be happy again, but the people of PA should be offended.

    April 11, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  24. John from CA

    My God, I'm getting tired of reading these rants from Obama bashers. This guy is the best candidate I've ever had the chance to vote for, by far (and this will be my tenth Presidential election).

    If anyone on this blog is actually still on the fence, and not just enjoying listening to themselves rant, I encourage you to read "The Audacity of Hope". It's an eye opener, and certainly convinced me that Barack has the judgement and temperament that I want representing me in the White House for the next eight years, and the guy I want answering that phone at 3:00AM.

    Frankly, his recent comments about the public financing system, and the small towns (quoted above), are both right. If you disagree with him, why don't you actually post a counter argument instead of some lame comment like "flip flop" or "elitist".

    April 11, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  25. Tom

    Mr. Obama – you challenged John McCain. He accepted your challenge. Now you're going to blame the system instead of following through? And you want to be President? You can start by trying to be a MAN. You gave the challenge, he accepted. Follow through.

    April 11, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
1 2 3 4