Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fallout from Obama’s Broken Promise on Public Funding

Emily Cadell at (USA Today) “addresses the questions concerning the state of public funding within the context of Obama's decision.”

After explaining how the presidential public financing system works and why Obama opted out, Cadell gets to the question that will most likely concern voters in the 2008 election:

Why is the decision controversial?

'“Obama has portrayed himself as a new kind of politician who would like to curb the influence of money and special interests over the political system. In March of last year, the Obama campaign stated that he would 'aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election' if he won the Democratic primary election. But the campaign backed away from those statements as Obama's popularity increased and the campaign contributions started flowing in. The more his fundraising efforts paid off, the more the campaign talked about pursuing that goal only as an 'option' he would explore.

“The decision also has historic implications; Obama is about to become the first presidential candidate since the public finance system was established in 1971 not to participate in general election public funding.

‘“Republicans claim Obama went back on his word. ‘In his decision to break his promise and forgo our nation's public financing system, Barack Obama failed to demonstrate the kind of principled leadership that Americans are looking for in our next President,’ RNC chairman Mike Duncan said in a statement.

'“Campaign finance reform groups are also disappointed. ‘We had hoped and expected that Sen. Obama would stick with the public pledge he made to accept public financing and spending limits for the presidential general election,’ said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21.

“Obama's campaign, however, maintains that he never promised to participate and point to his reliance on contributions from small donors — rather than lobbyists and political action committees — as evidence that he has ‘already changed the way campaigns are funded.”’

To read the rest of Cadell’s discussion, go here.

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