"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

McCain v. Obama & Public Financing

I've had some friends express concern about the general election public financing challenge McCain has made to Obama. Will Obama honor his earlier promise to accept public financing? Or will he be tempted by his shiny new money tree - which grows greenbacks faster than kudzu. The temptation of a million dollars a day may entice the Apostle of Hope to shed his reform rhetoric, revealing Obama to be just another politician. The pundits are warning a retreat on his earlier promise could be a serious political risk.

If I were an Obama strategist, I'd embrace McCain's challenge. It's a pretty easy decision when you think about it. Each of the major party nominees will receive about $85 million this year. This is given to them after they are officially the nominee. For the Dems that is late August - and the GOP confirm their nominee shortly thereafter.

As I understand it, Obama is free to raise and spend money on his own behalf prior to the convention. It was one of the reasons many wrung their hands in desperation about Edwards' decision to take primary matching funds. He would have been hamstrung from April to August until those funds were available, if he had been the nominee. So, if Obama can raise more than enough money for his summer needs (fending off the GOP machine) AND he can lend his name to raising money for the DNC, DCCC and the DSCC I see absolutely no reason he should not accept public financing.

While it remains to be seen if he can transfer his Midas Touch to the Democratic Party in general, it would behoove him to try. He simply needs to say, "Dean's 50 State Strategy is critical to creating the governing coalition we need to become the change." If only 15% of these Obama donors opt to write their first $25 check to the DNC the party will have tapped into a HUGEpreviously unimagined financial resource.

The Republicans - already falling behind in the congressional committee fundraising race - could find themselves outspent by a factor of 2 or 3 to 1 this cycle. $85 million dollars should be enough to win over the course of the last 10 weeks of the general election campaign. I am confident the Obama advisors will see this and score the political points of accepting public financing. McCain may think they've got Obama the Reformer boxed in on this one, but I have a hunch they're wrong.

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