June 19th, 2008
12:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama decides to decline public financing


Watch Sen. Obama's announcement Thursday that he will not accept public financing for the general election campaign.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama has decided not to accept public financing for his campaign, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told supporters Thursday.

WATCH Candy Crowley on Obama's decision

In an e-mail message, Obama said his decision means that his campaign will forego over $80 million in public funds.

In exchange for taking public funds, candidates usually agree to a cap on the amount of money they can spend on their campaigns.

"It's not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections," Obama wrote. "But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system."

Obama has repeatedly broken campaign fundraising records during the Democratic primary season. Since January of 2007, has raised over $272 million.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, raised less than half of that, roughly $100 million, over the same period.

Full story

soundoff (570 Responses)
  1. Ron

    Interesting to see if he can still raise that kind of money. I generously donated during the primary but was snubbed at a function in St. Louis and thus will not donate during the GE or host any fundraisers unless I get an apology and I seriously doubt he is going to call an ordinary citizen. Several others have reported similar experiences.

    I don't think Senator Obama is directly to blame but his inner circle staff are elitists that are already sizing up their jobs at the White House. Reports about invitations being withdrawn, muslims being denied access, and those in power being moved to the front of the line are only a small portion of many negative stories that are starting to surface within the Obama Campaign.

    The Senator needs to get a handle on the situation quickly or this is going to be his Swift Boat if he isn't careful. Folks like me really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to donate at the top level because we believed in him.

    June 19, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. R.I.F.

    Sounds like sour grapes for the GOP. All the GOP does is game the system and find ways to get around the $80 million cap so I think it's smart for Obama to opt-out. Considering the fact that his average donation is $96 and he's raised $272 milllion to date, it would be stupid fro him not to.

    And before you Hillary supporters say anything, considering the fact that she raised well over $200 million as well, she would have opted-out as well.

    June 19, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. B.M.

    Goodbye John....Hello president Obama

    June 19, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  4. Enlightened Voter -

    Obama doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He is amazing and his promise of running an open campaign are being lived out. Of course the disgusting repubs will criticize all Obama's attempts at doing the right thing cause mcwar can't hold a candle to him.

    June 19, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. NoMccain

    Steve Schmidt said Obama's campaign is based on "words." I hate those things, those, those... words. They just get in the way of everything, don't they? Those darn things always got Bush in a lot of trouble too, those darnded words. I'll tell ya.

    June 19, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Patrick Henry, Fort Myers

    Remarkably the campaigns of both of these dark horse candidates–will likely be the best funded in history!!

    Yet conclusively, both enjoy only the voter support of 50% or less of their party faithful. What a pity.

    The millions of other undecided voters are apt find themselves stuck with a new President who represents their desires/ideology even less than GW Bush!!!! What can be done!!!

    The Libertarian Party.
    A place for conservative thinkers of all stripes–who desire real change are absolutely dissilusioned by the two major parties.

    Barr 2008
    Needs your donations and support in order to get on the remaining 22 state ballots.
    (We may not win–but when you vote you won't lose your dignity and self-respect!)

    June 19, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. Jeff

    It's very simple: McCain wants to continue fighting dirty, illegally coordinating with special interests and 527s; Obama has chosen the high road to forgo public financing and build a campaign "by the people, for the people." Anyone who's upset at Obama for taking this historic action is simply narrow-minded and unwilling to accept that not only is the system broken, but also corrupt, and Sen. Obama has shown a willingness to truly change how it's done. Bravo, Sen. Obama. Out with the (Mc)Old, in with the new.

    June 19, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  8. Clinton/McCain

    Dirty rotten scoundrel!

    June 19, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. Jim Shimmer



    June 19, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  10. Richard

    I am so glad we have a Democratic canidate who does exactly what he promises to do. Oh wait we don't

    June 19, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. jose in brooklyn

    Take that McBush!!! i'm sure you'll go to your oil executive friends who want to drill and pump up their coeffers....OOPPs, i meant to help consumers.

    June 19, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. Raoul

    The McCain campaign's rebuttal = our wealthy GOP donors are going to get crushed by a grassroots organization

    My $25 is going to Obama.

    June 19, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. From Georgia

    Barack – the new politican walking the same old road of lies and promises that can't be kept. How are you all fooled by him? Wolf in sheep's clothing!

    June 19, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  14. K from Tallahassee

    I am a single mother of three, a citizen of the u.s. As far as I am concerned, I AM THE PUBLIC. And he will be getting a steady stream of my finances now through November. How ya like them apples?

    June 19, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  15. Beverly, NYC

    Mr. Schmidt stop your crying, were you asleep when Barack's internet fund raising amounts were announced each month? Did you really think you would not be out spent in the general? Sorry his capaign didn't fall for the trap. Don't worry, your candidate can flip-flop and take public funds, you can use the spending cap as the reason you will lose in November. Maybe Cindy will make loans the campaign money or not charge for use of the company jet. I'm sure you can save money by having the hacks at Fox news give you free publicity, that is until their ratings dip. Good luck with all that!

    June 19, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. Brad Neill

    We most certainly do have crisis in this great country, but it is not energy, unemployment, homelessness, no, not even the economy or border control. I believe the most depleted resource in this, the most powerful country on the planet, is common sense, if that doesn’t deserve crisis status I don’t what does. It seems clear our elected and TRUSTED officials have evolved into a political sporting event of two Titan teams sparing it out in a perpetual muddy stalemate that we call Congress. What a shame and waste of time, talent and money. I feel the media has driven a wedge between the two parties in the name of entertainment, aka the news. One can’t be taken serious unless they are a tambourine banging conservative or a far left loon! What happened? Did we miss something? We all know the middle ground is where common sense abides, wake up congress! Is it time for a congressional kick in the butt? Hello, you still work for us.

    Brad Neill, TX

    June 19, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. Kelly - Virginia

    No problem......until they fix the loopholes, I agree with obama. I see no backtrack here. Mcbush is not using public financing either.

    June 19, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. Larry West Covina, CA

    CNN's home page "Obama declines more than $80 million". Why doesn't CNN report is as story for what it is; Obama abandons principals and opts out of public financing. Obama claims "the system is broken", HA! This guy will spin anything and everything to reach the White House and the media allows it. It is a sad time in America when the media conglomorants control our policy. In retrospect, the media is owned by the huge corporate conglomorants (CNN, ABC, NBC, etc.), so in reality who is running the country.

    STOP nOBAMA!!!

    June 19, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. Nausea

    Obama did SIGN A PLEDGE to take public financing! Everyone ready for a George Soros et al puppet government?!?!?!? Add in the group A.C.O.R.N. (Responsible for voter fraud, registering dead people who voted in 2004 for example; Obama has helped trained their leadership) and we have "masters at gaming this broken system."

    June 19, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  20. Bluv

    If Obama really wants to score some cool points he'd try to at the very least introduce the idea of some of that money going to flood/tornado vicims that have been stricken by these natural disasters this year. If he could find a way to do that then he would definitely be THE MAN! Think about it; politicians can find money for campaigns and wars but none to feed the poor.

    June 19, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  21. This shows one of the problems with this country

    With the money we pay in taxes already, the presidential election should not be privately funded.

    Give each candidate so many millions each, and say good luck.

    This "private donation" garbage is making it more like the senior prom than anything else....

    is this what our democracy has become?

    June 19, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. NJ Republican

    What a stand up guy.....if he take the public funding what would he tell all those special interest groups that give him money if he couldn't spend it!

    Geez...wake up people!!! He is no different and there is no change!!

    Those NAFTA contributors will be really made if he can't spend there money....funny how he's changing his position on that one now.

    June 19, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  23. Bob Chisolm

    Since there is a cap on personal donations (and people can't give to the limit and then give again) he's setting himself up bigtime for fraud.

    June 19, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  24. Think

    Those who doubt Obama's viability need only look at these numbers.

    Those who question his experience need only look back to a 43 year-old phenom named JFK.

    Those of all points of view who ready for a robust debate on the issues- welcome to the process.

    Those who wallow in nothing but hate and ignorance- pity. Our cherished American system of government has no place for you.

    June 19, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  25. Jeff in Illinois

    I don't see what is so great about government-managed public financing. McBush & Co. will cry about this, because they have so few supporters and can't raise as much money. I'm fine with seeing a senator who is against the new GI Bill, and for slashing of Veteran's Benefits cry, because he's not much of a man anyway.

    June 19, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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