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)

    HILLARY just commented on this as well.......BO, you got some 'splainin' to do........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 here 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 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. @americans

    For those of you "EDUCATED BILLARY VOTERS" CREAKY means old-fashioned or out-dated or old, so Obama is advocating for a new public campaign financing system, and he is ABSOLUTELY ON POINT!!!!

    GO OBAMA!!!!

    April 11, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. J France

    What a crock! Move on.org and the George Sorros machine are the ones that have put together the funding apparatis for Obama. It's perfectly legal the way they are going about it. But just who do you think Obama is going to owe? You the american people? I don't think so. Sorros is a socialist with some really radical far left views. All of you Obama worshipers are nuts if you think it's you that is buttering this guys toast. You need to wake up and smell the flowers. Tweaking the process, which he would never do would completely undermine his machine. Just keep being sheep and buying into this and you will really get what you deserve. And, you will see George Sorros llaughing all the way to the throne that Obama will have to prepare.

    April 11, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  4. Adrian

    OBAMA 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  5. Gillis

    I will donate another $1000 to Obama before April 22 2008. Be wise and do the same. Follow a winner NOW!

    April 11, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  6. Jon

    What a fraud. Obama is such a detestable person.

    April 11, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  7. Really? Really?

    Can we post this comment this time?

    Are some tax paying voters really gonna call him on this one?

    I'd rather have the money back that was given in public tax donations and let this new method of privately run-"Not"-special-interest-lobby-way-of fundraising be the one in place. How can any fiscal conservative Republican or Independent honestly say we should stick to funding campaigns with tax payer dollars instead of opting for a new way the keeps the fundraising donations private and away from major lobbies.

    Really? huh? Really?

    This is the audacity of idiocy to force public funding dollars on a candidate who has a way to privately generate funding without taking large sums of special interest donations. McCain to skip the fund raising parties and kick his Internet money machine in gear.

    Irony is a fiscal conservative is saying we should lean on public funds, tax payer money. Come on people.

    The goal is to remove the special interests, not fund presidential campaigns with tax payer dollars. Some people... I swear, if you showed them an open door they would walk into the wall anyway.

    Let me keep my money.

    April 11, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  8. Dem08

    Obama is lying to the American people and especially to the voters in PA.

    He was aware of the ant-american comments of Rev. Wright for years. He still named his book after his sermon, he called him a mentor, and placed him on his campaign as a advisor. He only removed him because it cost him politically.

    His ads in PA are lies. No candidate is allowed to take money from oil companies, but he fails to mention the millions he has taken from oil company execs and employee's. He also claims he will take away special tax breaks, but fails to mention that he VOTED FOR those very tax breaks.

    Now he is talking down to rural people living in PA. Basically saying they blame everyone else for thier problems.

    Now Obama wants to rethink his promise on public funding??? He and his campaign will do anything and then hide behind retoric to win. This is not the new politics we were promised, its more of the same, and even worse..Obama is lying to us all.

    April 11, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  9. Priscilla Flanagan

    It is very wrong of Obama to collect money from muslim people and arab. countries. Money of theirs is illegal .

    April 11, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. RKE, Suisun City, CA

    If Obama is serious about winning the presidency, then why should he give up a huge weapon such as fundraising? It would show his lack of judgment and experience is he refuses to rely on his fundrasing abilities. Let McCain whine about his ineffectiveness in raising cash. That is not Obama's concern. The $85 million from public financing would not even begin to deal with the 527 groups that would be out there gunning for Obama. He wouldn't stand a chance. If McCain were able to raise money like Obama, I guarantee that he wouldn't accept public financing. Obama is in it to win it. Make no mistake about that. Democrats would be upset if he tied one hand behind his back by accepting public financing. Let's get real.

    April 11, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. Nanc, MN

    Oh I'm waiting for the Obama team to spin both of these issues!!

    Sneer at the people in PA, Obama, that's not so cool. Will you say you didn't even hear it, even though you said it? Will it just be boneheaded? Ummmm, maybe you really weren't there and it was your body double?

    Now I know exactly where your online supporters get their farging snotty attitudes to the less educated, blue collar workers. It comes directly from the horses mouth.

    Shame on you Barack Obama! You are a real piece of work.

    April 11, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. Jacob

    Why are Clinton supporters so hateful?

    Obama '08!

    April 11, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Nunya

    Obama's exact words:
    "If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

    That is not "If I am the Democratic nominee, I will use the public campaign finance system and I would expect the Republican nominee to do the same.", no matter how you want to twist them.

    Listen to what he actually says rather than listening to what you want him to say or to what the media interprets him as saying.

    April 11, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  14. Donna


    "I hate nafta I'm going to do away with it" Pssst Canada I don't really mean that.
    "I will withdraw troops right away from Iraq" Pssst I Don't really mean that either.
    " I will accept public funding for my campaign" Did I say that?
    "I never heard any racist or inflamitory comments while I sat in the pews at my church" Well I guess i did hear those things.
    " I don't take money from oil companies" Well I said oil companies I didn't say oil executives.

    Blah Blah Fricken Blah


    April 11, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. Herman LA, CA

    I will donate another $1000 to Obama before April 22 2008. Be wise and do the same. Follow a winner NOW!

    April 11, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  16. Craig in Texas Democrat and supporter for Obama

    All these republican comments on here, i see them more and more everyday. Whats wrong with you right wingers dont you guys have your on comment columns on your own websites. This is no Glen Beck section. We dont care about what lies you try to spread about Obama or Clinton jus get a life. Every comment they leave on here is a lie or a racist one. GOD BLESS THE IGNORANT

    April 11, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. a simple american

    Obama is more direct than the rest of the candidates, he has not been in politics longer than hillary or mccain and that's why he carries way less baggage than them ........... he probably is the most educated among all candidates, you have to understand him because he is not your typical politician ........... I think America is ready to flush the Washington and put someone there who is new, different, well educated, well spoken, genuine, "Presidential", good negotiator, inpirational, and actually someone with courage to be honest and direct even when people may disagree with him.

    Obama's campaign started clean, just telling people who he is and what he wants to do and why ......... it started off well. When Hillary saw Obama moving along quite well, she started playing dirty politics and she has continued it since .......... wake up America, don't vote for Hillary just cuz she's Hillary and don't vote for Obama just cuz he is Obama ..........

    think about it, compare the things that actually matter, and truth is both have pretty much the same ideas on stuff that acutally matter(although Obama's ideas are slightly better), who can actually execute ....... it's Obama for all the right reasons.

    Don't be offended by his direct comments, of course people get bitter when they lose jobs, wouldn't you? His point is, people are bitter because there is a problem, and he will fix that problem (jobs being shipped overseas). He has a good plan to do this and other things that actually matter.

    April 11, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  18. Jean

    Go Obama Go!!!

    April 11, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  19. jd

    Bill thanks for all your comments that make it so easy for OBAMA to win. Keep talking Bill, your gift is appreciated. OBAMA/08

    April 11, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  20. John

    The main focus of Obama's promise was to not allow lobbyist to finance the election and therefore be in debt to them. Obama has came up with an even better solution to this problem. He has created a parallel publicly funded system in which we the voters can actively participate at will. Also we no exactely what campaign will be supported. With this, he has indeed kept his promise to the american people by not allowing lobbyist to finance his campaign. The american people understands this. John McCain and his surrogates are either confused, desperate or just plain out of touch with the reality of why Obama wanted public financing in the first place. Barack, we understand this history making financing system that you have introduced to us. Do not allow John McCain to belittle it or it's brilliant execution by handicapping you through miniscule technicalities.

    April 11, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  21. Teddy

    It is understandable for Obama not to accept public financing. He is like a money machine. I guess he will raise at least two or three hundred million dollars for general election. Yes, he gets a lot of money from common people. But monst money is still from rich people. Only 4% of Americans are donating to political campains.

    However, Obama's money advantage will not be that big. Yes, McCain will only have 84 millions for the general election. But it is for only two months. No matter how much Obama spends, he won't win the deep south. He does not need to spend a penny to win the deep blue states like Illinois. So most of the money will be spent in about 20 states. McCain campain is asking donars to donate to RNC and each can donate to RNC much more (more than 10 times as much to Presidential candidates). If McCain campain can coordinate well with RNC, the money in RNC is similar to his own campain money. Republicans are richer on average than Democrats. So if Obama gets a lot of money, RNC might get a lot too. Do not count out Republicans.

    April 11, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  22. Raphael Texas

    The only thing "creaky" is when Obama uses the term "Typical White Person" and "bitter" Americans.

    Not Everyone in America is bitter or blames others for their problems.

    If you have not noticed yet Obama and his Pastor are one in the same...

    We need a fighter not a blamer.

    Go Hillary

    April 11, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  23. Lisa- NC

    Obama said, regarding Mark Penn, "Let me put it this way," the Illinois senator said. "I'm not surprised that Sen. Clinton found herself in an uncomfortable position as a consequence, and I know that if staff of mine were putting me in that kind of position I would get rid of them."
    I guess he would have done it just like he got rid of Rev. Wright.
    Give me a break.

    April 11, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  24. scott

    whats funny is he is getting big corp money its just being fed in under the corps workers. that way there is no trail. the other cash is coming from mommy and daddy funneling it in from there college students who beg for everything and there folks give in. BO has made alot of meaningless promises I hope many of you remember that when he sez its time to donate that time for the school funding I promised you before. welcome to the National guard now lets go end this war........

    April 11, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  25. Dems2008

    I agree! If he can raise more money on the Internet, good grief–then he should go for it. This issue is only an issue ecause the other two candates can't match him dollar for dollar.

    April 11, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
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