Patterico's Pontifications


Will Obama Keep His Public Financing Pledge? Are You Kidding?

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 12:05 am

So Obama appears to be on track to raise $60 million in a month. What’s more, that month is February — which, even with the leap year, is kinda short.

This is why Allahpundit says, regarding the likelihood of Obama standing by his pledge to take public financing: “Not a chance.”

Yeah, that’s right. He made a promise and he’ll break it. You think this is something new for him?

Hot Air commenter AZCoyote reminds us of a little chat Obama had with Tim Russert in 2006 in which he pledged to serve out his Senate term and not run for President in 2008:

Russert: When we talked back in November of ‘04 after your election, I said, “There’s been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your six-year term as United States senator from Illinois?” Obama: “Absolutely.”

Obama: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.

Russert: So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

Obama: I will not.

As Homer Simpson says: Then it’s settled.

Ah, but I hear you saying: politicians all do that.

Right. It’s politics as usual. That’s the point. Mr. “Change” is Mr. “Politics as Usual.”

And he will not go back on that public financing pledge . . . unless it becomes really inconvenient, and gets in the way of his becoming President. Which it would. If he’s raising $60 million in a month, it really, really would be very, very inconvenient.

Which is why he will go back on that public financing pledge.

But surely McCain will get some political mileage out of it? Hah! From Big Media? McCain pointing this out will be portrayed as whining, evidence of his weakness and inability to compete on the fundraising front.

I see it all laid out before me like a movie I’m watching right now.

Except, if it were a movie, I already would have gotten up and left.

25 Responses to “Will Obama Keep His Public Financing Pledge? Are You Kidding?”

  1. Obama will keep his promise until he stops keeping his promise.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  2. Patterico:

    I see it all laid out before me like a movie I’m watching right now.

    Money isn’t everything. In fact, beyond the minimum needed to pay staff, pay travel, and buy advertising time, I think excess money can sometimes destroy a presidential campaign through oversaturation (case in point: Mitt Romney vs. John McCain).

    Imagine the debates (Obama’s weak point), with McCain beating him up one side and down the other, with withering comments about how many tens of millions of dollars Obama was spending to little avail.

    My offer still stands: $200 even-odds says that if McCain is the Republican presidential nominee and Obama is the Democratic presidential nominee, that McCain will beat Obama and be elected president.


    Dafydd ab Hugh (db2ea4)

  3. How about dinner at a German restaurant?

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  4. excess money can sometimes destroy a presidential campaign

    Not as much as the media can select our candidates for us. McCain was nowhere until the The Poll came along and dictated his lead; and Romney didn’t have a chance the moment the media became evangelicalite about his religion.

    More importantly, Obama raised $60 million in one month yet his voters can’t afford to pay for their own health care or education or be responsible for paying their bills?

    If only I had as much money as a Democrat voter.

    syn (eb1ff1)

  5. More importantly, Obama raised $60 million in one month yet his voters can’t afford to pay for their own health care or education or be responsible for paying their bills?


    Great observation. That’s definitely something McCain needs to keep hammering on:

    “Mr. Obama says that most of his supporters are basically one paycheck away from the poor house. If that’s the case, who is sending money to his campaign and why?”

    MarkJ (8ac3d8)

  6. If you check with, you will see an amazing amount of donors to Obama that are “unemployed” or “self-employed”. Small donations (under $4,600) that should give pause to anyone reading the list.

    So where are all the unemployed worker bees finding the cash to donate to a political candidate? Are they doing without food on the promise that when Barack imposes his modern from of socialism on the United States the “community” will take care of them and feed them? Are they sustaining themselves on a diet of red beans and rice until the day we have a “community” that is for the people and eliminates individualism?

    When I see the frenzy of his followers at his speeches, I am reminded of another time and another charismatic speaker. Only that time the sheeple were shouting “Sieg Heil”.

    retire05 (498a91)

  7. They both backed out, of course they did. Obama needs his money to try and mitigate his lack of experience and McCain needs all the money he can get to get the message out about Obama’s lack of experience to try and get independants to switch back or stay with the Reps.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  8. Loks like BAMA is flip flopping already and its only feduary

    krazy kagu (9b4d22)

  9. EdWood,

    If you have a shred of evidence to support your apparently false statement that McCain has backed off his pledge, please provide it.

    Patterico (630af1)

  10. I don’t understand the law well enough to get why Obama can spend, spend, but McCain is now hemmed in by his own campaign laws.

    I agree with Dafydd about the eventual outcome, BTW.

    Patricia (f56a97)

  11. Obama is likely going to try the super-cynical liberal route: Raise piles and piles of money this election cycle, get elected, then (knowing that he’ll have to make unpopular decisions that will rally and unify the GOP opposition) come out in favor of public financing of campaigns.

    Of course, the downside to raising all that money is that the opposition will have lots of fun finding questionable characters that have donated to Obama, of which there is bound to be plenty.

    JVW (f3cb3d)

  12. I don’t understand the law well enough to get why Obama can spend, spend, but McCain is now hemmed in by his own campaign laws


    The story is that McCain is hemmed in to his (since rescinded) agreement to take public money for his PRIMARY campaign. The debate between Obama and McCain is on use of the public election financing system for the GENERAL election.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  13. Anyone who thinks that Obama didn’t already have a well organized machine all ready to unseat Hillary if the occasion came up is mainlining their meds. He was ready to go and had a stealth movement in gear as far back as January of’07. This “movement” didn’t just spring spontaneously from the fertile minds of liberals. He will take whatever money is available. So what?

    Howard Veit (cc8b85)

  14. Thanks, cboldt.

    Patricia (f56a97)

  15. Ouch! Another Republican ethics scandal.

    That sucks.

    I didn’t know that Obama had promised not to run, by the way. I can’t say the revelation has disavowed me of any grandeur notions… but that’s only because I didn’t have any grand notions regarding Obama in the first place.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  16. I think there is more to Obama’s agenda then meets the eye like where is all of his money coming from! As far as the people crying for help and wanting a change be careful what you wish for after all it’s the citizen’s themselves that brought this down on themselves by wanting big wages then spending their pay check on foreign cars & imported goods they should have put a stop to this a long time ago! Next comes the man that can walk on water so where is he going to get the money for HIS programs THE COUNTRY IS BROKE OBAMA

    jim collins (d2c1bc)

  17. That’s where I got confused c-bolt(and Patterico). I’ll be more careful next time.

    EdWood (c2268a)

  18. Where is Obama getting all that money during a resession? Simple! Big companies and special interest groups are handing it out to poor working people with the stipulation that they send it to his campaign.

    Dan Corley (db3fc9)

  19. I was struck last night listening to the two Dem candiates prate on about their government giving this group X amount of dough and that group X amount of dough that they talking about giving MY money to someone else. They talked as if the money was theirs to give away!

    Stunning, how we have been conditioned to think that they own us!

    Patricia (aaa977)

  20. He will not have to weasel his way out of this one. He will just ignore it, the media will ignore it, and when it is covered, it will be spun that it is a good thing, showing the depth and breadth of his support amongst working people.

    JD (851cdc)

  21. When all you have to offer is words, changing what you say whenever its convenient is a big deal.

    A politician with a record and a few accomplishments can get away with more flip-flopping.

    At least, that’s how it should be. It looks like Americans are ready to sell their souls to Obama and let him use the government to add meaning to their lives. If people in this country are so stupid, then the whole Western Democracy experiment thing has failed and we deserve to be wiped out in a socialist death spiral of poverty and misery.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  22. Patterico:

    How about dinner at a German restaurant?

    You’re on… winner gets to pick the German restaurant. You’re in luck: Our favorite German restaurant, Lowenbrau-Keller, is no more; it has become a Chinese place called Medusa, oddly enough (since Medusa was a Greek gorgon). But we found a new German place that’s quite good.

    To make it explicit, we win if the Republican presidential nominee, whoever he is, is sworn into office on January 20th, 2009, as the 44th President of the United States; you win if the Democratic nominee is sworn in; and the bet is called off if neither the Democrat nor the Republican is sworn into office — that is, if some third-party president is sworn in, or if the United States government is overthrown before then. (That wording seems pretty bulletproof!)

    Is that acceptable?


    Dafydd ab Hugh (db2ea4)

  23. Dafydd,

    If gambling were legal, I’d take that bet.


    Check your e-mail. And be sworn to secrecy!


    Patterico (4bda0b)

  24. re Patterico #9 I got confused coz I read the Washington Post article on how McCain was opting in to Fed money when his campaign was not doing so well eariler in the year but that he opted out later coz he didn’t spend the money. I thought that meant for the General election not the Primary. The post article is a little confusing on it. Then there is an opinion thingy by Rick Hasen over at Huffpo that add in that McCain may have to stop spending money now because he is technically still under the Fed system coz of a bank loan he took out..uh..against the Fed money he had promising to pay it back if he didn’t need it….etc. it starts getting convoluted.

    So, he was all for Fed money until he didn’t need it (it was a hedge) and thus was able to use a loophole to back out of using it and keep getting other money.
    Obama appears to be putting up all the conditionals to keeping his word as expected…

    What I can’t figure out from these articles is whether McCain is in or out for public financing for the general election or if is he going to try a similar hedge? When is a hedge a flip flop?
    I can envision two candidates trying to figure out a way to point to the other and say “Well HE flip flopped first!!!!”

    Would it be worth the risk for McCain to take the Fed money and stay true to his word even if Obama opted out and got to spend more money?

    EdWood (296dcc)

  25. I read the Washington Post article on how McCain was opting in to Fed money when his campaign was not doing so well eariler in the year but that he opted out later coz he didn’t spend the money.

    The “opting out” part is still murky, but regardless of that, the reason he aims to opt out is that he can get more money from private financing than he stands to get under public financing.


    The “loophole” that McCain crafted for himself (it’s the language in the loan/security agreement package) for opting in and then out (and then back in, if he underperforms in a primary election) is novel. No previous presidential candidate has created a circumstance like this.


    A paraphrase of the original loan and security agreements is “I’m not pledging the matching funds I’m currently entitled to; but if I withdraw from public funding and lose the NH primary, I’ll reapply for matching public funding and promise to use that as collateral for this loan. And no matter what, I promise not to exceed the spending limits associated with the matching funds program, until after I replay the loan.”

    cboldt (3d73dd)

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