U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Thursday he has decided to forgo public financing of his election campaign against Republican John McCain.
The decision frees him up to collect money privately, which could be a help to him strategically ahead of November's election.
Obama should be able to raise at least more than triple the amount that he would have been given with public financing. This, obviously, will give him a financial advantage during the campaign, which should in turn help him win in November. An Obama victory in the general election is worth nearly infinitely more than following an abstract ethical principal about the role of private money in elections, especially considering that the vast majority of Obama's money will come from small donors giving $250 or less. The only donors he would owe his victory to are grassroots progressive activists.
I actually like McCain's attack on Obama over this, because it boxes McCain in quite nicely:
"Today, Barack Obama has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama.
"The true test of a candidate for President is whether he will stand on principle and keep his word to the American people. Barack Obama has failed that test today, and his reversal of his promise to participate in the public finance system undermines his call for a new type of politics.
"Barack Obama is now the first presidential candidate since Watergate to run a campaign entirely on private funds. This decision will have far-reaching and extraordinary consequences that will weaken and undermine the public financing system."
So, now either McCain takes public financing, and faces a huge monetary deficit as a result, or McCain goes the private route too, and becomes "another typical politician," just like Obama.
Although, echoing Hans Gruber from Die Hard, I would say that Obama is an extraordinary politician, rather than just a
common "typical" one.
And anyway, if Obama is typical, how can he be "elite?"
Also, I'm pretty sure that Ross Perot didn't take public financing, making the McCain statement wrong on the face of it.
This attack isn't going anywhere. The extra $150M that Obama will bring in from this will be far, far more valuable.