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John McCain: Press Release - PA GOP: Obama Flip-Flops on Public Financing
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John McCain
Press Release - PA GOP: Obama Flip-Flops on Public Financing
June 19, 2008
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PAGOP: OBAMA FLIP-FLOPS ON PUBLIC FINANCING

Barack Obama Breaks Promise On Public Fundraising

HARRISBURG — Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Robert A. Gleason, Jr. issued the following statement after hearing the news that Barack Obama flip-flopped on his earlier promise to participate in the public financing system:

"Barack Obama continues to say one thing and do another, further proving that his rhetoric just doesn't match his record. Obama continues to claim that he is ushering in a new day in politics, but this latest flip-flop proves that he is nothing more than a typical old-fashioned politician.

"Pennsylvanians are tired of candidates who take the route that is politically expedient, especially when they are contradicting themselves. The hardworking people of this great Commonwealth are looking for a Presidential candidate that is going to stick to his word, and that is why I am confident Pennsylvania voters are going to pull the lever for John McCain this November."

BARACK OBAMA ON PUBLIC FINANCING

Summary:

  • In the fall of 2007, Barack Obama pledged to accept public financing.
  • Throughout the primaries, Barack Obama claimed to support the public financing system and even co-sponsored legislation to preserve the system.
  • Throughout 2008, Barack Obama has said he would pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee on public financing.
In The Fall Of 2007, Barack Obama Pledged To Accept Public Financing:

In The Fall Of 2007, Obama Answered "Yes" To Question "Will You Participate In The Presidential Public Financing System" If His Opponent Likewise Agreed. "The [Obama] campaign went even further in answers to a questionnaire sent to the various political campaigns in September 2007 by the Midwest Democracy Network. The questionnaire posed a very simple question to the candidates: 'If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?' You can read Obama's response here. The candidate highlighted the simple answer 'Yes' and elaborated as follows:" (Michael Dobbs, "The Obama 'Pledge,'" The Washington Post's Fact Checker, 2/20/08)

Read Obama's Full Response Answering "Yes" He Would Participate In Public Financing In General Election If His Opponent Agreed To Do So:

QUESTION: "If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?"

OBAMA: "Yes. I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests. I introduced public financing legislation in the Illinois State Senate, and am the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Russ Feingold's (D-WI) bill to reform the presidential public financing system. In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (r-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Midwest Democracy Network Presidential Candidate Questionnaire: The Responses Of John Edwards And Barack Obama," Midwest Democracy Network, Released 11/27/07)

Throughout The Primaries, Barack Obama Claimed To Support The Public Financing System And Even Co-Sponsored Legislation To Preserve The System:

"Mr. Obama Was The Candidate Who Proposed The [Public Financing] Pledge In The First Place, In February 2007, A Time When He Was Not Raising The Prodigious Sums He Is Now." (Elisabeth Bumiller, "Skirmishing By McCain And Obama On Financing," The New York Times, 2/15/08)

  • Obama Spokesman Bill Burton In March Of 2007: "If Senator Obama is the nominee, he will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." (Jim Kuhnhenn, "Federal Regulators Rule Candidates Can Return Donations For General Election," The Associated Press, 3/1/07)

In Response To A Midwest Democracy Network Questionnaire, Obama Said He Would Accept Public Funding In The General Election. Question: "If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?" Obama: "Yes. I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network, www.commoncause.org, 11/27/07)

  • Barack Obama Even Referred To His Plan As A "Fundraising Pledge" For His Opponents To Accept. Obama: "In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network, www.commoncause.org, 11/27/07)

Barack Obama: "If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." (Sen. Barack Obama, "Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," Midwest Democracy Network, www.commoncause.org, 11/27/07)

In February 2007, Obama Co-Sponsored Sen. Feingold's Legislation Designed To Keep Current Public Funding System Relevant. "Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) added his name to legislation overhauling the public financing of presidential elections this week, earning him plaudits from watchdog groups. Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer yesterday urged Obama's presidential rivals to follow his lead and cosponsor this session's bill from Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). It would raise significantly the spending cap for candidates accepting public funds during their White House campaigns in an effort to keep the system relevant." (Elana Schor, "Obama Co-Signs Bill To Publicly Fund Campaigns," The Hill, 2/16/07)

  • Sen. Feingold Highlighted One Section Of The Bill That Would Force Candidates To Opt In Or Out Of The System For The Entire Election Before The Primaries. Sen. Feingold: "One very important provision of this bill ties the primary and general election systems together and requires candidates to make a single decision on whether to participate. Candidates who opt out of the primary system and decide to rely solely on private money cannot return to the system for the general election. And candidates must commit to participate in the system in the general election if they want to receive Federal matching funds in the primaries." (Sen. Russ Feingold, Congressional Record, 1/30/07, p. S1346)

Throughout 2008, Barack Obama Has Said He Would Pursue An Agreement With The Republican Nominee On Public Financing:

In June 2008, Barack Obama Tells The USA Today That He Would Pursue A Public Financing Agreement With John McCain. "On campaign finance. Obama said he'll accept public financing for his campaign -- which would limit the amount of spending -- only if McCain agrees to curb spending by the Republican National Committee. 'I won't disarm unilaterally,' he said." (Kathy Kiely, "Obama Reaching Out To The White Working Class," USA Today, 6/6/08)

In April 2008, Barack Obama Says "I Have Promised That I Will Sit Down With John McCain And Talk About Can We Preserve A Public System." FOX NEWS' CHRIS WALLACE:" Wall Street Journal says that you are prepared to run the first privately financed campaign, presidential campaign, since Watergate. True?" OBAMA: Well, look. We've done a wonderful job raising money from the grassroots. I'm very proud of the fact that in March -- in February, for example, 90 percent of our donations came over the Internet. Our average donation is $96, and we've done an amazing job, I think, mobilizing people to finance our campaigns in small increments. I have promised that I will sit down with John McCain and talk about can we preserve a public system, as long as we are taking into account third party independent expenditures. Because what I don't intend to do —" (Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," 4/27/08)

  • Barack Obama: "I Would Be Very Interested In Pursuing Public Financing" "MR. WALLACE: "If you can get that agreement, you would go for a publicly financed campaign?" OBAMA: "What I don't intend to do is to allow huge amounts of money to be spent by the RNC, the Republican National Committee, or by organizations like the Swift Boat organization, and just stand there without -- (cross talk)." WALLACE: "But if you get that agreement?" OBAMA: "I would be very interested in pursuing public financing, because I think not every candidate is going to be able to do what I've done in this campaign, and I think it's important to think about future campaigns." (Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," 4/27/08)
In February 2008, Obama Wrote Op-Ed In USA Today Stating That He Would "Agressively Pursue" And Agreement With The Republican Nominee Guaranteeing "A Publicly Funded General Election In 2008 With Real Spending Limits." "In 2007, shortly after I became a candidate for president, I asked the Federal Election Commission to clear any regulatory obstacles to a publicly funded general election in 2008 with real spending limits. The commission did that. But this cannot happen without the agreement of the parties' eventual nominees. As I have said, I will aggressively pursue such an agreement if I am my party's nominee. I do not expect that a workable, effective agreement will be reached overnight. The campaign-finance laws are complex, and filled with loopholes that can render meaningless any agreement that is not solidly constructed. I propose a meaningful agreement in good faith that results in real spending limits. The candidates will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help to outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement. And the agreement may have to address the amounts that Senator McCain, the presumptive nominee of his party, will spend for the general election while the Democratic primary contest continues. In l996, an agreement on spending limits was reached by Sen. John Kerry and Gov. William Weld in their Massachusetts Senate contest. They agreed to limits on overall and personal spending and on a mechanism to account for outside spending. The agreement did not accomplish all these candidates hoped, but they believe that it made a substantial difference in controlling outside groups as well as their own spending. We can have such an agreement this year, and it could hold up. I am committed to seeking such an agreement if that commitment is matched by Senator McCain. When the time comes, we will talk and our commitment will be tested. I will pass that test, and I hope that the Republican nominee passes his." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "Opposing View: Both Sides Must Agree," USA Today, 2/20/08)

Read the full text at PA GOP.org



Citation: John McCain: "Press Release - PA GOP: Obama Flip-Flops on Public Financing," June 19, 2008. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=91715.
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