June 19th, 2008
09:15 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama's funding decision makes history

(CNN) - Barack Obama will become the first major party presidential nominee to refuse general election public financing in the program’s history, since it first went into effect in the 1976 presidential election as part of a package of post-Watergate campaign finance reforms

Candidates who participate in the program receive a grant from the federal government (approximately $85 million per major party nominee) from which the candidate’s entire general election campaign must be financed. Participating candidates may not raise or spend money outside of this public funding grant.

In February 2007, Obama asked the Federal Election Commission whether federal rules allowed presidential candidates to begin raising money for the general election and then later return that money should the candidate decide later to participate in the general election public financing program. The FEC ruled unanimously in March 2007 that presidential candidates could essentially change their minds and accept general election public financing - provided that they return any money raised for the general election while following certain guidelines. Obama’s actions were seen as a desire on his part to preserve the public financing option, while still enabling him to protectively raise general election money.

The contribution limit that a donor may give to a presidential campaign is $2300 during the primaries (i.e. “pre-convention” period) and if the candidate does not accept general election public funding, another $2300 for the general election (i.e. “post-convention” period). Any of Obama’s donors who maxed out during the primaries may start over and donate up to another $2300 for the general.

Obama has already been raising money for the general election, as allowed by law. As of April 30, 2008, Obama had raised about $9.2 million specifically for use in the general election. This is not the “matching funds” program, which applies only during the primary season, not the general election. The two programs are completely different and are operated under different rules.

This Friday, June 20, is the filing deadline for the next round of monthly FEC campaign finance reports, which will detail fundraising and spending through May 31.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. JC in SC

    Bravo for Obama but he doesn't need the funds so it's quite easy for him to refuse it. And The White House deal? Now it's gotten out of hand! I think it would be ridiculous and outrageous to change the name of the White House just like it would be to change the name of the Vatican or the Taj Mahal. "White" in this case has A.B.S.O.L.U.T.E.L.Y. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. to do with skin color. Cut the crap!

    June 19, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Steven

    Republicans are just jealous because they can't match the fund raising power of Obama, otherwise McSame would be doing the same thing. The very fact that Obama can raise more money via public donations says people want CHANGE.

    June 19, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  3. Justin from West Haven, CT

    California Voter is a moron. McCain has been given a free ride since he won the nomination, nothing he does is ever wrong.

    California Voter is an idiot for voting McCain especially in a state like California.

    June 19, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. WH

    Why don't we just have a pure vote. No primaries, just one election day......winner take all.

    June 19, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. unions are not stupid

    Hey Brian in Knoxville

    You really should get off the crap stain of a blog puma pac it is one of the biggest jokes I have ever read. Not one word of truth in the site just lies and garbage! As for you calling Obama a flip flopper and having absolutely not to support your claim I do.

    Mc Cain has flip flopped an average of 2 times a week for the last month! he was against off shore drilling 3 weeks ago according to him now all the sudden he is all for it! Those facts can be verified through many different media outlets not just you precious puma pac propaganda garbage! Mc Cain has not offered a fair open debate he offer debates run by fox news and with a crowd staged with his supporters that is what Mc Cain offered!

    Get facts not lies and propaganda!

    June 19, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. F. Taylor

    The way McCain and his crew are crying now can't you just picture them meeting with foreign dignitaries and then crying foul when they can't get their own way?

    No wonder McCain prefers to shoot and ask questions later he hasn't got what it takes to hold his own in a diplomatic discussion. Right now he is safe and secure in his own state of organized confusion.

    June 19, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. LT for Obama

    I for one am glad. The article I read earlier also noted that one of the reasons Obama made this decision is that McCain has been using private funds for his General Election campaign since February.

    He has already been doing what he accuses Obama of doing in bad faith.

    Brian Knoxville – Obama is debating him. As I understand it, they have one coming up next month. Also, there is nothing unethical about making this decision. It is funny to me that so many blame Obama supporters for being nasty but you have been consistently horrible and nasty and I think you need to take a break from the computer and really sit back and reflect on why you are so angry all the time.

    June 19, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Jo Comer

    I think you are making a smart move. You must protect yourself from attack ads. Without money you can not fight. The republicians are now trying to reinstate oil drilling and they have not used the resourses they have been given to drill. They just want to make sure they keep their intrest afloat. We need money to fight those kinds of ads. Why have they not start using the leases they already have. They say green is too far down the road. Their plan would not take place for 10 or more years, what is the difference. It will take them ten years to implement their own plan. So much for developing future alternatives to oil from the oil companies, they are not using existing resources. Should we now give them more titles to explore, or make them use what they have?

    June 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  9. Fran

    A true politician at work. He never commits himself to anything without giving himself an out first. He is out for himself and he will do what is best for him, not the nation. Haven't we already had 8 years of that type of politics. It's not McCain who is like Bush, it is Obama who is like Bush, arrogant and egotistical.

    June 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. A. Burke NYC

    it really sickens me and makes me and most progressive citizens sad to read all of these racist comments on these blogs. i would think most americans would be proud of someone who is continuing to break barriers... that is waht our country was founded on.

    unfortunately most americans do not know the facts. if you want to know what candidates stand for you wont get them from mainstream news channels like cnn, msnbc, fox... but rather look at the candidates websites to get a comprehensive run down of what they stand for.

    if you don't like the man, like his policys

    June 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. Erik from Golden, CO

    He's making his money the old fashioned way... he's earning it.

    Seriously folks... he's simply taking a little burden off taxpayers and running on his own merits. If McCain gets his granny-panties in a bunch about it, it's only because he knows that his lack-of-charisma can't compete.

    Bravo to Obama for making a stand against a flawed system. I hope that this is a signal that he's NOT going to put up with the built-in corruption that's pervading politics today. He's sticking to his campaign message of change and is going to make a positive difference by making a stand for what he believes in... unlike how McCain is flip-flopping on every issue possible just to make his corporate sponsors and Republican-masters happy.

    June 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. dorothy

    Barack Obama, will continue to make History, in many area, for an Inexperience Presumptive Democratice Nominee for President, all I can say is Great! I am still looking at the years of experience of his opponents, like President George Bush, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton, and the question is What Happen to these so call people are not NAIVE!

    Go Obama 08!


    June 19, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  13. Liz

    I don't know why anyone is surprised. Obama is a phony and like his mentor Wright said he is a politician and will say and do anything to be elected!!!!!

    June 19, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Mike from Westchester

    Brian Knoxville, TN wrote:
    June 19th, 2008 11:15 am ET

    "answer questions from real Americans like me."
    After reading your posts for several weeks now, I think I can speak for the majority of Americans in hoping that you are not representative of a "real" American. However, you are in the running for biggest moron on these blogs.

    Obama will debate McCain several times more than the two debates already scheduled. I don't know how many will be in the "town hall" format. McCain was trying to get them all in his preferred format. I expect you will not be pleased with the outcome when they do face off. The comparison of the two of them on stage together is going to be more striking than the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960.

    June 19, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. Alan in Florida

    why fight fair when you can raise millions off the backs of supporters? It would be hard to fight McCain if Obama is limited to only 85 million, it took more than that to beat Hillary.... Isn't it ironic he will fight so hard to make sure McCain can only accept public financing while Obama will have an unlimited amount of money for his campaign. Is this part of the change thing? looks to me like the same crooked campaign tactics Obama has used all his life against his opponents.

    June 19, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. Tony

    Note to CNN.

    He shouldn't be lauded for this as making history. He should be derided for attempting to buy the White House and for ensuring that a broken system fueld by $$ will now be the norm. This is disgusting.

    June 19, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  17. Ken

    This shows that Obama is like any other politician, just telling the American people whatever to get their vote. Obama said that if McCain took public financing, that he too would do the same. Obama is a phony

    I just wonder why there are so many people following a idiot and a liar? I am tired of the media making Obama out to be different than any other politician!

    Obama will tell the American public whatever to get himself elected. WHAT A SHAM!

    WAKE UP AMERICA! see the true Obama, a liar, a politician like any other, that slaps Hillary Clinton in the face! THIS IS NOT THE PERSON THAT I WILL VOTE FOR.


    June 19, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. EGabelli

    GOOD for you, Senator Obama!

    We, the everyday folks in this country, will help you to finance your historic campaign to the Presidency.

    My family and I will continue to send you $25 a month, as we have since you began.

    My husband and I are in our 60's and, although we thought we saw dismal times during the 60's and 70's, the last eight years of the Bush/Cheney reign have brought this country to the lowest point possible in every possible arena, and we had lost all hope.

    With Senator Obama's campaign, we (a woman of Italian descent and a man of latino descent) have regained our faith that maybe, just maybe, greatness can be restored to this beloved country of ours at home and abroad.

    Thank you, Barack Obama, for bringing intelligence AND leadership AND political acumen AND good judgment AND articulate clarity back into America politics and back into the White House!

    Hope is not only for the young.

    June 19, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. keith

    I think he's right that campaign finance is broken. When he gets into office I want to see him actually change the system though, so that its fair for everyone else in the future. And while you're at it, lets see a presidential runoff added to the presidential election reform bill to allow third party candidates participate, and allow voters to vote for who they think should be the next president instead of having to vote in a 2 party system.

    June 19, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. Dusacre


    Leave Michelle alone.

    June 19, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. Michael

    Some of you simply do not understand what he has done, he is refusing to take public money, in other words the taxpayers are not paying for his campaign. I’m sorry but how is that a bad thing? I respect him for doing this; he is not sticking the taxpayers with the bill for his campaign, only his supporters are paying for his campaign. So I am trying to figure out why this is a bad thing and why so many people, McCain included are trying to make it an issue.

    June 19, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Enlightened Voter -

    One thing the Obama supporters and haters can agree on, he inspires people to get into politics like never before. I have NEVER been this pumped up about any election, I barely knew who was running in past elections, now I am like a junkie. Thanks Obama, history will be kind.

    June 19, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. Nicole in NE

    1.5 Million people donated to Barack's campaign and many were repeat donors. What is so wrong with that and turning down PAC and lobbyist money?

    Gosh – so horrible.

    June 19, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  24. Watermann

    Smart and honest move again

    BTW, who of CNN is a friend of
    1. Brian Knoxville, TN (PUMA) and
    2. Lynn (HRC supporter)

    Both of them can comment whatever they want and it will be posted, Guaranteed.

    June 19, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. AW

    Good luck Obama. America should take you to task on this. UN-BELIEVABLE!!! He just cannot keep a promise – and the general election campaign hasn't even started yet! LOL!!!!!! So much for CHANGE – that's out the window – it wasn't convenient. (whine)

    June 19, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
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