Sunday, March 02, 2008

Harkin To Obama: Spend The Money

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says Barack Obama owes it to his supporters to spend their contributions instead giving back millions to hew to the public-finacincing language of a questionnaire the Illinois senator (or his staff) filled out months ago.

The Democratic presidential candidate shouldn't cave in to U.S. Sen. John McCain's appeals to adhere to Obama's earlier remarks on federal funding -- regardless of what Obama may have said or pledged in the past, Harkin said in response to questions from Iowa Independent.

McCain, an Arizona senator and the likely Republican nominee for president, has sought to make the public-financing matter a campaign issue. Harkin doesn't think it has legs with the American people.

"Things like that are sort like people saying they're going to just run for limited terms in office," Harkin said. "How many people, no names mentioned, have said, 'Oh, no, we should change the law, only two terms in office' ... while they were running for their third and fourth and fifth terms."

Obama did say he would take the public-fundraising route.

Here is the Associated Press:

In response to a questionnaire in November from the Midwest Democracy Network, a group of nonpartisan government oversight groups, Obama said: "Senator John McCain 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."

"I just don't think people would hold it against Obama for having said, Well, I'll take public financing and then saying I had no idea all these people around the country were going to support me with $50, and $100 and $75 -- and isn't that the way want politics to operate," Harkin said.

Obama would stand to lose much more money than McCain under public financing, according to the Medill News Service.

Forgive him (Obama) for originally assuming it would be impossible to raise more than the $84 million, but nobody has ever accomplished such a feat. And no one - just ask the Clinton campaign - expected Obama's campaign to morph into the phenomenon it has become.

Much is at stake. While Obama is still grappling with Clinton for the Democratic nomination, McCain can move into general election mode, spending primary funds to position himself for the general election campaign.

Obama would also need to return more than $6 million in private donations already raised. By contrast, McCain only stands to lose $2.2 million by accepting public funds.

This story is crossposted at Iowa

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