I don’t think a major candidate has ever done this and it speaks volumes about how much money he has raised. My understanding is that the public fund comes with rules about how a campaign can be run-- the biggest, I think, is the equal time rule.
So. . . what exactly are the rules attached to public fund monies? What effects will this have on both McCain and Obama’s strategy?
IIRC Obama had said that he would opt into the public funding if the McCain campaign would do the same (and last I read it looked like they probably would). That article does not mention if McCain chose one way or another but I thought Obama’s decision kind of silly since the public funding route limits total money raised or spent (lots of fiddly details on the program ). If Obama was out-raising McCain handily then evening things up in the manner would only help McCain. Glad to see Obama opted out.
McCain has been trying to get out of public financing, but he’s had two problems. The first is that he’s already opted into the program, during the primaries, and to get out requires the permission of the FEC. Because of a nomination fight between Bush and the Senate, the FEC doesn’t currently have a quorum (It only has two current members out of six), so it can’t make any decisions.
His second problem is that, while he hasn’t spent any public funds yet, McCain used the promise of public funds for collateral to guarantee a bank loan to his campaign. So, the FEC, if and when it gets a quorum, could rule that he’s benefitted from the publ;ic funding system and not let him out of it.
I’m not surprised at all. Based on the primaries - assuming his base, generally, is not tapped out - Obama could raise twice that much by November standing on his head. So he’s likely to have a very big fundraising advantage, and, as the Times points out, the question is how well will the RNC do at narrowing the gap, since it has been more successful at raising money than the DNC.
McCain only wants Obama to agree to public funding because Obama is kicking his ass at fundraising. Is Obama breaking a pledge? Sure, but he’d be an idiot not to. He’s out-raising the old fuck by more than 2-1. He’d have to have shit for brains not to press that advantage and McCain’s sanctimonious call to stick to public funding is not only transparently self-serving (he’d never say that if he wasn’t getting buried on the fundraising), it’s also hypocritical since he has every intention of benefiting from sleazy 527 ads.
Wasn’t there the matter of that form he’d signed a year or two earlier where he said he’d take public financing? If memory serves, Shayna, I think it’s pretty clear he was shading from that initial position (which was taken before he knew his monthly fundraising totals were going to look like the box office returns for Pirates of the Caribbean 3) to this inevitable opting-out.
The big reason for opting out-public financing will expose Obama’s main contributors. people might not be pleased to hear that he’s been getting money from the American Sugar Association, the Trial lawyers of America, AIPAC, the Insurance Institute of America, etc.
So much for 'reform"!
Good on Obama!
When asked to play by the Marquess of Queensberry rules, it’s important to determine whether your opponent intends to play by them, or not.
This WSJ piece from April makes it look as though McCain does not: New McCain Fund Gets Around Donation Limits
As I see it, the problem with money in politics is as follows:
You’ve got to get votes from one group of people in order to get elected.
You’ve got to get money from another group of people in order to reach those voters, in order to get elected.
To the extent that the goals of your financiers undermine your willingness to act on behalf of the goals of your voters, money in politics is a problem.
For the GOP, this has always been less of a problem: they’ve always been the party on the side of the corporate interests regardless. For the Dems, it’s always been a pretty big problem, because when they raise money from big donors, the big donors generally aren’t nearly as eager for easier union organizing, universal health care, better health and safety regulation, etc. as their voters are.
Obama’s eluded this tension by raising incredible quantities of money from small donors. ISTM that he’s accomplished the goal of campaign finance reform by other means. So I have no problem with his opting out of the system.
McCain had said last year that he “will opt out of the post-Watergate presidential public financing system unless the Democratic nominee agrees to campaign under the same financial restrictions” and is only not doing so because he has found that he cannot raise so much and needs the public dollars. Those spending restrictions won’t effect him as he doesn’t have it to spend. The money that will be spent on him is in the RNC coffers, not in his campaign funds, and if I understand correctly that can still be spent.
Meanwhile Obama is not opting out because “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.” He is opting out because right now his machine is a fundraising juggernaut and is likely to become even more leviathan as Clinton’s deeper pocket supporters line up behind him as well. It would be foolish for him to not fully exploit that advantage. No, no promise was broken, no commitment was explicitly made, Marley, wiggle room was carefully preserved as indeed he had merely promised to “pursue an agreement”, but be real. McCain wants to offset Obama’s fundraising advantage in any way he can and Obama wants to exploit it. To expect anything different would be naive. That’s all there is to it.
At the Democratic debates I am sure Obama was asked about a pledge he’d signed earlier. It’s not a big deal to me either way: you knew the “negotiations” weren’t going to go anywhere and he was going to opt out. Taking public financing would have been a big mistake for him.
So Obama proposed spending limits outside of public funding way back in January and McCain told him to go piss up a rope?
And now that he is stuck with public funding, McCain is saying Obama is reneging on a promise that McCain turned down? Even though he (McCain) tried to get out of public funding a long time ago but couldn’t because he borrowed against the money and Bush feels like sticking it to the FEC?
My recollection, which very well could be faulty, is that it was an aide who filled out a “check the box-style” questionnaire on Obama’s behalf. And when he was asked about that questionnaire during the debate, he explained its format and the inability to apply meaningful nuance to any of the answers, then proceeded to explain the terms under which he would be agreeable to discussing public financing should he become the nominee.
I still think he fulfilled that “promise”. I’ll see if I can find any confirmation of my fuzzy recall.
I don’t yet have an opinion about this matter, though I am an Obama supporter.
One thing I will comment on, however, is that, if the shoe were on the other foot, this is exactly the sort of thing that would send this forum into a tizzy – and I think you guys know it, too. As it is, so far I’ve got it about 7:1 for Obama here if you count the posts that come down explicitly on one side or another.
Seriously, imagine a universe in which McCain opts out of public financing. Now imagine a thread in GD overwhelmingly defending the move. It’s just not plausible, I don’t think.