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. TC Orlando, FL

    WAAAAA, WAAAAA, poor McBush can't hack it with Obama in fundraising and now he's crying because it will look bad if he takes the money (which he so desperately needs) and Obama doesn't. This is a new style of campaign and election and I guess like they say...you can't teach an old dog new tricks. And and old dog is exactly what we don't need in the WH to go forward in this country and world.

    June 19, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. rich

    Smart move. Everybody and their mothers know that even if he opted to go with public financing that McCain and his outside groups will game the system. Obama has the fundraising advantage, and he should be able to adequately respond to all charges level against him as McCain ship takes on more water. I say, wise move Obama.

    June 19, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. Maureen

    This is why Obama should be our next President. He will be running the White House with out a broken system.

    Obama 08-12

    June 19, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. Chris from San Antonio

    The only reason McCain is critical of Obama "backtracking" is because he knows he can never compete with Obama in fundraising.
    Basically, McCain's position is "it's not fair that Obama has more support."
    And if we're gonna discuss "backtracking," McCain has quite a few more important issues in his closet than this.

    June 19, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Given how well Obama was and is raising money from a wide group of contributors, is it any wonder that he isn't going to take federal money? I mean, this is as close as some have come to a fully publicly financed campaign. Granted, it isn't 100% clear as to who is contributing and how much, but I have to say I have less fear that there are groups of specialized interests that focus solely on their own needs that are contributing to the Obama campaign.

    I guess that McCain can't really say that he has that broad appeal. Is he going to take federal campaign money or not? The other question is did he apply for federal money and then decline it? Can you do that; start to take it and then decline to take it?

    June 19, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. Peggy - Tx

    Obama’s candidacy is based on much more then words. His words convey the hopes and dreams of a huge number of Americans.
    He has demonstrated that he is a savvy politician; otherwise, we would not have placed our confidence in him to deliver a government that works for the people. He made the right decision, based on the current situation, to be able to spend more money then he could to enable him to get his message out as well as to counter the spin and lies coming from the other side. Had he chosen any other option, then he would have let down all those who are now supporting him.

    June 19, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. Joan from Mt Pocono PA

    I am pleased with his decision. Instead of criticizing him, why don't John McCain take the same route?

    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  8. karen

    I think its great what Obama is doing!!! He's beating the republicans at their own game!!!!

    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. Obama Fables

    This guy can't tell the truth. First he makes a pledge to accept public financing, now, because it's convenient, he makes a claim public financing is broken, and he's not going to accept it. He doesn't believe anything he says, will say anything, lie, deceive, fabricate and bend reality to fit his agenda, and people...he hopes you won't notice. The sad part is, most people won't notice. Yikes, this guy is dangerous.

    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. John from LA

    Good news-so Obama-if the system is broken-give some pointers on how we can fix it???-once again words, words, words, NEVER a way out of the broken system-I always thought action speaks louder than words!

    From a skeptical Independent.

    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  11. DrMan

    Now who's flip-flopping? While I understand why he's doing it, that doesn't make it right.

    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. Republican Party Forever

    Well, it doesn't matter whether Obama has fundraised a lot or not.

    First, that crazy Hillary was knocked down.

    Now, McCain will get rid of this guy!


    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Ian Randal Strock

    Every article on campaign fundraising talks about the fact that Obama (and Clinton, too) raised so much more money than McCain, but none of them remark on the situation: Obama and Clinton were in a hotly contested, highly publicized, very public campaign for a very long time. McCain, on the other hand, has had no opponents to speak of (in his primary campaign) for a very long time. There's no reason for people to donate to a campaign that has no opponent. Rather than telling us how much better Obama did when running against Clinton, let's see what happens when the race between Obama and McCain truly begins.


    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Phil Newton, Murphy OR

    "Obama's candidacy is based on words and it seems like everyday that passes, those words look emptier and emptier when judged against his actions," Schmidt said.

    No, I don't think so. He knows he's up against the unregulated "soft machine" of the GOP. He's going to fight it with all he's got.

    We won't get fooled again.

    My friend.

    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. ls

    Gosh, Steve Schmidt just described Bush, and Bush being a Republican, Mr. Schmidt verbally slammed his own party.

    Schmidt most likely doesn't realize that his opinions reflect Bush, McCain and the Republican party.

    McCain and his advisors are a joke, and have had absolutely nothing to say that will benefit our future. To this point, they have spoken worthless gibberish.

    June 19, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Swift

    Schmidt is full of it... Obama never agreed to accept public financing, the letter he wrote to McInsane (posted on the net') clearly states that he would, if nominated, speak to the red nominee about a form of public financing.

    Once again, the McSame camp LIES, LIES, LIES. But when is the last time a republican ever told the truth?

    June 19, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Tony

    Totally indefensible. Obama is a fraud and a liar.

    Zero respect for anyone who can't keep his word about something he stated as unequivocally and publicly as he did with regards to this issue.

    Business as usual. Anything to win/buy an election. He is just as bad as all the other crooks. So much for "change."

    For Sale: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    June 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Power to the People

    Thank You President Obama.
    The People Need to Determine their President and we believe you are that person. Let me go donate another $10 after sending this email.
    Stay away from McCain FLIP FLOPs as he takes public financing with one hand and lobby money with the other. He thinks the American People are foolish to believe in the Stright Talk Express BS.
    Not this time!

    Obama 08

    June 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. Eric P

    Alright for Obama and his whole team. The constantly show how smart and shrewed they are. He's in it to win it and not going to be tricked in to this trap of public funding laid down for him by the Republicans, who desperately need him to accept public financing because of McCain could never raise the millions Obama continues to raise! They just want to strip him of one of the many and advantages he has going into the general election. The want to let level the playing field and the Obama team is not falling for it . There ready to wield that money like a club on McBush's head! Let the battle begin!!!!!

    June 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. Kitty

    "A broken promise of staggering dimension?" I'd ask Mr. McCain about much more profound broken promises such as his being strongly against torture tactics in the name of our country, then flip-flopping on this word; standing against a hideous deficit fueled by tax cuts for citizens who hardly need those cuts, and then flip-flopping on his word; being against senseless offshore drilling in an effort to appear to address our petroleum dependence, and then just this week joining GWB in calling for a reversal; being behind our brave citizens fighting in Iraq without reservation, except when it comes to supporting them financially and unequivocally when they return to the states - "too expensive" Mr. McCain says. GWB says the same, of course.
    Broken promises? Staggering dimensions? McCain proves each and every day that he will deliver yet more of the biggest broken promise of all– upholding and standing unequivocally for the good name and the honor of America - a promise Bush has miserably failed to deliver and McCain promises more of the same. We are exhausted by broken promises, Mr. McCain! You and Mr. Bush can peddle false hope this time, but we're far wiser this year. Not now. Not this time.

    June 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. You should have voted for Hillary!!!

    "Obama's candidacy is based on words and it seems like everyday that passes, those words look emptier and emptier when judged against his actions," Schmidt said.

    I could not have said it better myself...

    June 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. Laurie Velez

    Bronx N.Y.
    Unfortunately the McCain campaign does not know what else to grab onto. Maybe they should grab on to the helm of Christ, that may be their last hope.
    It fraustrates me when he goes on about his service as if he was the only one on this earth. My father was in the Army 35 years 2 wars, purple heart service. So we all know how many times my dad was injured.
    People should realize as I did as a little girl that Military people that served to this extent not only are they mentally unhealthy, but absolutely love the excitement of war. Open your eyes folks.
    OBAMA 08

    June 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. Ryan

    We have endured 16 years of Presidents who refuse to honest and forthright with the American people. You can sugar coat Obama's decision to not accept public financing however you want but when you get down to it the man went back on his word. He lied to the very people he hopes to lead and our citizenary should not be foolish enough to reward him for it. The politcs of change... hardly. This is how most politicians would play it and only proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Obama is just another politician. Don' be fooled by the wolf dressed as a sheep.

    June 19, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Creative Woody

    "a broken promise of staggering dimensions."

    Let's talk about broken promises, McCain. Let's talk about how you flip-flopped on every MAJOR policy since being nominated.
    We can start with tax breaks for the wealthy and continue to when you said you support most if not all of Bush's policies.

    June 19, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. Ben

    What else is Obama to do? I had tons of concerns about him, from his patriotism to his plans for the economy and war. And he has addressed all of this to my liking. The funny thing is as a republican I hate to say i'm actually considering voting for the guy.. I also like the fact that he is more knowledgable about scripture and christianity then McCain. I don't know what to do..Should I stick to my parties candidate or go with the young guy who I actually have more in common with.. This sucks!!! Oh yeah I also had a problem with rumors about him really being a muslim.. But what I found out is that any true muslim who takes part in anything that has to do with christianity is not only a trader and not liked, but to the extreme muslims is targeted for death.. Is this true??

    June 19, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23