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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 02/20/2008

The Obama 'pledge'

By Michael Dobbs


Obama on the McCain campaign plane

"Senator Obama's words are contradicted by deeds. He said he would -- he pledged to take public financing as now Senator McCain has pledged. He has just reversed that pledge.
--Hillary Clinton surrogate Lanny Davis, CNN Late Edition, Feb. 17. 2008.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton on Thursday called public financing "an option that we wanted on the table," but said "there is no pledge" to take the money and the spending limitations that come with it.

--Associated Press report, Feb. 17, 2008, from Obama website.

Did Barack Obama ever commit himself to accept public financing for the general election if the Republicans made a similar pledge? The Obama and Clinton campaigns have been arguing this point for the last few days, and it is now the Fact Checker's turn to weigh in.

The issue of public financing has come back to the fore now that John McCain appears to have locked up the Republican nomination. The Arizona senator has championed campaign finance reform. Last March, the McCain campaign publicly committed itself to accept public financing in the general election "if the Democratic nominee agrees to do the same." In return for giving up the chance to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in private funds, both major candidates would receive around $85 million in public funds.

The Facts

It is not only the Clinton campaign that is accusing Obama of breaking his word. Last week, a coalition of advocacy groups expressed "deep concern" at the possibility that the Illinois senator might wriggle out of what they depicted as a firm "pledge" to accept public financing in the general election.

To understand the background to this dispute, it is necessary to go back to February 2007 when the Obama campaign raised the possibility of accepting public funds with the Federal Election Commission. In a Feb. 1, 2007 letter to the FEC, lawyers for Obama asked whether the campaign could "provisionally raise funds for the general election but retain the option" of returning the contributions if an agreement was reached with other major candidates on accepting public financing. The FEC ruled on March 1 that this was permissable, as long as the general election funds were kept in a clearly separate account from the primary election funds.

The Obama campaign is correct in arguing that there is nothing in the Feb. 1 letter to the FEC that can be fairly interpreted as committing the campaign to accepting public financing. Obama spokesman Bill Burton told Politico on Feb. 28, 2007 that the senator would not necessarily commit himself to participating in the public financing system if the commission approved his proposal. "It would be a situation where if the Republican agreed to opt-in to the public financing system, it would be something we would explore," Burton told Politico.

After the FEC issued its ruling, the rhetoric became less equivocal. On March 1, Burton challenged Republican candidates to follow McCain and agree to public financing. He said that Obama, if nominated, would "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

Many newspapers, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, interpreted this Burton statement as a commitment to accept public financing in the event of an Obama-McCain race. As far as I can tell, the Obama campaign made no effort to dispel this impression. His enthusiasm for public financing was a way of distinguishing himself from his rival Hillary Clinton, who was raising much more private money at the time.

The 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:

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.

When I asked Burton about this yesterday, he said that Obama would address the issue of public financing when he becomes the Democratic nominee and that it is premature to decide the matter now.

UPDATE: WED 11:30 A.M.

Obama has now elaborated on his position in an op-ed for USA today. The op-ed appears to set several conditions for reaching an agreement on public financing with John McCain. It talks about the need to also regulate spending by outside groups, and warns that considerable effort will be required to reach a workable agreement. Here is the key passage:

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 other words, the "pledge" comes with asterisks and lawyerly footnotes. It is far from a done deal.

The Pinocchio Test

The Obama campaign has said different things at different times on the issue of public financing. While there may have been a little wriggle room in some campaign statements, Obama's affirmative answer to the Midwest Democracy Network seems unequivocal. Now that Obama is raising $1 million a day, his enthusiasm for public financing appears to have waned.

Two Pinocchios for the land-of-Lincolner.

(About our rating scale.)

By Michael Dobbs  | February 20, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  2 Pinocchios, Barack Obama, Candidate Record, Candidate Watch  
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Comments

Who cares? Only those looking for little nits to pick. There are bigger fish to fry. When he says up will he mean under like Bush has with this Clean Air Act or No Child Left Behind? Will he lie about reasons to go to war? Will he take other people's sons and daughters off to die and empty our treasury and bankrupt our future on unnecessary wars like McCain and Clinton already have? I don't think so.

Posted by: SarahBB | February 20, 2008 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I have always been against the idea of public financing. I know the argument is that it has the benefit of ensuring that the candidates are not beholden to people with big pockets. I know that it was borne of a bi-partisan agreement between Feingold and McCain. I know, I know. However, as an indepentdent voter I think it is unfair to use taxpayer dollars to support the presidential asperations of people with whom many may disagree. I don't want any of my money (admittedly, a miniscule portion of the tax base) going to John McCain's coffers. It ain't right. I, like millions of others, have contributed a small amount to the Obama campaign as a way of showing support for what he says he is trying to do: Change the way in which Washington works and who it works for and bring some honesty to government. And that, I believe is the way it should be. Millions of small donors giving what they can because they stand behind a candidate.
That said, I will have a serious problem if Obama does not keep his pledge. I'll forgive the waffling ($32 million in January is an example of the substantial edge Obama has in fund raising), but in the end, if Senator Barack Obama wants my vote, he's going to have to stick to his word. It would be a shame if Obama allowed McCain to call his bluff so early in the campaign. It would be a shame if Obama allowed his message to be overshadowed by financial concerns. I believe that Obama has nothing to fear from the debate. He won't have to rely on T.V. ads for his ideas to gain traction.
Once again, I'm against public financing on principle, but I didn't write that legislation. It is what it is. I didn't fill out that questionaire for Senator Obama either. And I'm against dishonesty in our public figures. Senator Obama would do well to remember that many of his supporters are his supporters because he speaks about holding politicians accountable and we are going to start with him.

Posted by: JPHemingway | February 20, 2008 6:58 AM | Report abuse

This will be a nagging for Obama and he needs to deal with it. Now. The problem for Obama is that he is running as a candidate from the moral high ground, so he is held to a higher standard. (Contrast Clinton who, having made no such pledge, feels free to attack from the moral low ground).

Can Obama beat McCain even with public financing? I think yes. Does Obama think so?

If he agrees with me then I'd recommend he (1) Accept the pledge, unequivocally; (2) Apologize for hesitating... the insidious lure of money and all that; (3) Ask his supporters to give whatever extra money they want to give to the DNC to help the party win big majorities in Congress. There are around 28 Republican congresspeople retiring this year and Obama's coattails could be very very long... especially if the DNC has $1Billion to work with. Also, this will make Obama look like the leader of the Democratic PARTY. Which, as the party's nominee, he will be.

Peace.

Posted by: egc52556 | February 20, 2008 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Good advice from egc52556. Kudos.

Posted by: JPHemingway | February 20, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

I scanned down the last batch of blog entries and it looks like all Obama all the time. How about looking into Hillary a bit. Drudge is finding all sorts of dirt on her campaign, how about checking those out?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 7:29 AM | Report abuse

"... the Obama campaign made no effort to dispel this impression ..."

With all due respect. Mr. Dobbs, no one is under any obligation to dispel the media from its incessant false impressions. This issue aside, the the media in general has a hair-pin propensity to jump at any little sound bite for the purposes of seeing conflict set in ink. This is especially true on the editorial pages, where writers apparently confuse expressing a learned opinion with freedom to manipulate the basic facts.

What, no fact check of that March 2 editorial? With the lovely and conclusive subtitle, "Barack Obama and John McCain agree to call off the fundraising race" ... where's your tedious unfolding of careless wordplay when the target is something appearing in print in the Post?

I heard Obama's comments in March differently ... I read it has having said that he's interested in that option if the Republican is. The Republican is, so now we have a viable conversation when the moment comes. This isn't dishonesty, it's simply deferring a complicated question until it is necessary to address it (I call that wisdom, but you judge how you like).

Posted by: RPW | February 20, 2008 7:46 AM | Report abuse

McCain-Feingold, which places limits on donations to candidates, is a good idea and arguably a moral law.

The scheme for publicly financing Presidential elections, in exchange for a promise to forego donations, is a different matter. It is riddle with flaws and open to all kinds of cheating in the form of privately funded groups allied with this or that campaign. Another exception is a very rich self-funded candidate.

Obama should stick to his position: that IF he is the nominee, which he is not yet, that he "will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

Such an agreement would have to ensure that there is in fact a level playing field, which involves more than just both candidates opting into the publicly financed system.

Posted by: mnjam | February 20, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

The "two pinocchios" is baloney.

What is the lie and where is the proof?

Obama said that, if nominated, he would agressively pursue an agreement to preserve a publicly financed election contest.

He will not have gone back on this until and unless he is nominated AND repudiates the idea of aggressively pursuing an agreement.

Posted by: mnjam | February 20, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

I don't see the point at which a lie was told. The "aggressively pursue" language has been consistent and it appears to me he has not moved from this commitment to public financing with the caveat that both campaigns accept the spirit of the agreement.
In that that will be a serious negotiation between the two camps at the appropriate time, I don't see the requirement for Obama to meet pundit's demand that he make any professions beyond what he has at time.
Not telling you what you want to hear when you want to hear does not equate to a lie.

Posted by: mmoran1 | February 20, 2008 8:15 AM | Report abuse

OBAMA PUBLISHED THE FOLLOWING IN USA TODAY:

Opposing view: Both sides must agree
I will seek a good faith pact that results in real spending limits.

By Barack Obama

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.

As USA TODAY has critically observed, outside groups have come to spend tens of millions of dollars "independently," while the candidates they favor with these ads "wink and nod" at this activity. There is an even greater risk of this runaway, sham independent spending now that the Supreme Court has wrongly opened the door to more of it in a recent decision.

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.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/02/opposing-view-3.html

FACT CHECKER OWES OBAMA A RETRACTION.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

He should abandon the pledge. Due to the winner-take-all format of the electoral college, those of us living in the wrong flavor of state (I am a Democrat living in an 80% red state) have no voice in the election other than providing funds so our candidates can better reach voters in swing states.

The campaign money IS my vote, it is my free speech, and I expect my candidate (Obama) to do everything legal in his power to secure the presidency. I trust his judgement on what action that entails, but it is difficult for me to believe that $85M in financing is better than three times that, which is the rate at which he is raising money for November. That money can go into paid phone banks with real people, ads, signs, rallies, get out the vote efforts with cars and rides, legal efforts and paid consultants to ensure Republicans and other activists cannot suppress the vote, and many other things. It is not just TV ads, that money spells fairness and a fair result.

Posted by: Anthony Castaldo | February 20, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Obama isn't the messiah he wants his followers to believe he is. He'll lie and hedge just like any pol to get to where he wants to be. Those Obamaites who trash Bush as unworthy of the holy grail shouldn't throw stones at glass houses.

Posted by: lorddunsmore | February 20, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous and simply dishonest. Your own research has actually exposed the fact that Obama never "pledged" himself to public financing and yet your obvious bias against the man (the last four entries all about him? Is there no one else in this race?) has persuaded you to see lies where there are none.

His language has been clear and consistent. That he will "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." He hasn't gone back on that.

This "Fact Checker" column isn't worth the pixels its printed on.

Posted by: Jedlev | February 20, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

why have the last 4 fact-checker posts been primarily attacks on Obama? time to mix it up folks, there are other candidates in this race.

Posted by: dc | February 20, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I agree that this is premature, he is likely to be the nominee but he isn't yet. In addition, the agreement aspect was always a condition, and as pointed out by others here and the Senator, its necessary to cover many areas that involve loopholes. Why should Obama take time out from campaigning in key states to negotiate an agreement that may never be needed? This is a red herring by the opposing campaigns at this point in time to provide the very distraction that may keep Obama from becoming the nominee. Factchecker's response displays typical inside the beltway thinking, buy more carts even if you don't have the horse.

Posted by: jr | February 20, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

It seems unfair to judge a person's actions before they occur. Barack Obama is not yet the Democratic nominee. Therefore, he has not broken his pledge. Wait until he is the nominee to see what action he takes, then criticize, if necessary. Fact Checker deserves two Pinocchios here for stretching the truth.

Posted by: Kathleen | February 20, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I agree that the 'Fact Checker' seems disproportionately focused on the Obama campaign, while ignoring the other candidates left in the race.

There's also nothing in the coverage of Obama's campaign financing statements to suggest that Obama will *not* accept public financing. Obama has never said he wouldn't, only that he will negotiate with the Republican nominee if and when he is the nominee. This is not a two 'Pinnochio' statement.

In some of the past 'Fact Checker' columns, rather than simply say statements were false or unsupported by the evidence, the Fact Checker' left innuendo made by unnamed sources unchallenged ('leaving it up to the readers to decide'), in effect aiding the circulation of half-baked rumors of the kind the 'Face Checker' is supposed to put to rest.

Today's column, and others before it, make me wonder if the 'Fact Checker' is the impartial arbiter of facts, as they purport to be, or simply another blog or opinion column. If the latter, they should say so.

Posted by: Mike | February 20, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Who care about public financing? We ought to know how much money the McCain family made from owning and selling black slaves before the Civil War at its Mississippi plantations. And how much money they made after the Civil War from plantation peonage of sharecroppers, their former black slaves. Salon online magazine reported documents from Mississippi state archives that Senator John McCain's "great-great grandfather William Alexander McCain of Carroll County, Miss.,.owned a plantation, with 52 black slaves, and later died defending slavery during the Civil War as a soldier for the Mississippi cavalry...W.A. McCain family's slaves were listed in archives in the customary manner of the day -- including their age, gender and 'color,' labelling each either 'black' or 'mulatto.' The slaves ranged in age from 6 months to 60 years...Tracing the genealogies of slaves is often easy, because slaves frequently adopted the surnames of their owners.In 1876, for example, a former black slave of the white McCain family named Mary J. McCain married another former black slave Isham Hurt both sharecroppers. The two had a son, blues guitarist "Mississippi" John Hurt, in 1892 on Teoc, the plantation community where the McCains owned 2,000 acres." Did any of that plantation money come down to the Senator in inheritance and is any of it financing his present campaign for the Presidency? http://archive.salon.com/politics2000/feature/2000/02/15/mccain/index.html

Posted by: thedefendant | February 20, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

How the heck does "I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." become an unqualified "yes"? Obama never said he would, no matter what, take the public financing, but said it was something that would be aggressively looked at. Why can't Hillary and the "Fact Checker" focus on real issues?

Posted by: Geek | February 20, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I agree with egc52556. This is bad for Obama. Especially given how much he claims to care about the role of money in politics. It looks really bad . . . he's all for changing the system, except when it starts working for him. Ditto his approach to shuffling money to superdelegates.

Clinton is a goner, so I am not worried about her anymore. What concerns me is how this will look going up against McCain, the big campaign finance guy. Obama's claims about changing the political system are going to laughable.

Get on top of this, Obama! We can't afford to lose this election.

Posted by: sciencemom | February 20, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

And as for you die-hard Obama supporters who post on the Post online . . . you need to get your stinking heads out of the sand! No matter what criticism is leveled at your man, no matter how legitimate or concerning, you do the same thing: Deny, attack Hillary (or now McCain), defend, spin, spin, spin. I realize many of you are political novices, but your many is playing politics just like everyone else. And it's hard to imagine that he isn't going to suffer for this one . . . He is the one making the claim that he's about something different -- no one else made that claim for him. But to suddenly say, "Oh, but the system I've criticized so strongly is now my best chance of winning" seriously calls into question his commitment to change. If you could look at it objectively, you'd get that.

And, by the way, Obama has gone for a year without any serious scrutiny. So stop whining about the press coverage. . . we all warned this would happen once he took the lead. In my mind, it happened to late if anything. He needs to be able to face this sort of scrutiny, folks. There's only more of it coming! What are you going to do when you can no longer blame Clinton for it?

Posted by: sciencemom | February 20, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Where's the pledge? Factchecker gets 5 pinnochios... again.

Posted by: J | February 20, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, so?


I'm still voting for Obama in the North Carolina primary this May and then for President in November.


How old is McCain again?

Posted by: tony the pitiful copywriter | February 20, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Sciencemom,
I'm sorry about Hillary losing (not really, she was unelectable and would unite Regressive Republicans), but the truth is 10% of people will hear about this and 5% of those people will understand this inane argument. It could be reframed as, "Obama takes money from small supporters instead of taxpayers." Case closed.

Posted by: J | February 20, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I was about to ride the high horse on WP again untill I saw others have gone before me.

Is the Washington Post still 'endorsing' Michael Dobbs?

Another older example: http://econ4obama.blogspot.com/2007/12/wps-michael-dobbs-misses-point-of-obama.html

Enough

Posted by: Martijn Vels | February 20, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

To plagarize Tony the Pitiful copywriter, Yeah, so what? I voted for Obama in the primary and will again in the general election. And you Clintonites better get behind him. (What does Bill have against living in the Naval Observatory, anyway? Heck, it's a nice house!)

Every time I hear McCain say, "My friends..." I am reminded of the sleazy used car salesmen who always address everyone as "my friends..."

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

The Collapse Of Hillary

As polls in Texas tighten up between Obama & Clinton, will you change your mind & vote with momentum?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1755


.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Who will limit funding to the '527' Swift-Boat PAC Attack groups that are no doubt lining up for a crack at defining Obama to the general population? If anything has been learned from Kerry's campaign, it is that negative ads/accusations have to be addressed immediately. Besides, Obama has not won the nomination yet so what is the problem? He said that IF he was the democratic nominee he would aggressively pursue an agreement. First things first. He has to fend off Sen. Clinton's negative campaign before he can even worry about the 527s.

Posted by: Absolute_0-K | February 20, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Sorry Dobbs, you get two pinnochios for this one.

Posted by: jameswhanger | February 20, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

The Cult of Her Own Personality

To my fellow Democratic Party American's; we have a dark specter crossing the landscape of our Party. Divisive primary politics aside, we have a radical element among our membership. This element is becoming more evident with each and every loss that they rack up, in that they are pulling apart of our Party. This element is showing that the pulling apart, and possible fracturing of our great Party, for what seems to be nothing more then feelings of self-entitlement toward the nomination, is a justifiable cost for their goals and aspirations.

"Senator Obama's words are contradicted by deeds. He said he would -- he pledged to take public financing as now Senator McCain has pledged. He has just reversed that pledge.
--Hillary Clinton surrogate Lanny Davis, CNN Late Edition, Feb. 17. 2008.

Again, I feel it necessary that we examine the true benefit of tying the hands of a possible Republican challenger, in this case Sen. Obama, when it comes to financing a general presidential campaign. Is it a responsible move for a Party member to actively fight against another possible presidential candidate in such a way?

Is it wise for the Party to allow ourselves to enter into a most important election with one arm tied behind our backs? Of course it is not a smart political move, yet this dangerous element in our Party feels it is fair game to attack a fellow Party member on such a matter. And, in a sense, help the opposition's presidential candidate's campaign.

By rejecting public funds, which no major party candidate has done for a general election since public funding for elections was instituted in the 1970's, Sen. Obama will be putting himself at an obvious disadvantage. Not just because Sen. Obama would have to return more money then McCain. Sen. Obama has raised $6.1 million toward the general campaign, compared to the $2.2 million that McCain has raised, but his grassroots fundraising machine is massive and not nearly close to being tapped out. This would be not just poor politics on the part of Sen. Obama, but it would be irresponsible to the Party to do such a thing.

The Democratic Party has a wonderful advantage against the Republican nomination this election year cycle when it comes to funding. A tool, which if not utilized, would be a politically reckless action on the part of a presidential Party candidate.

What we are facing with this dangerous Party element, is a high ranking member of the Party that is willing, and desirous, that we concede such an advantage for what? Is it for a possible underlying feeling of presidential self-entitlement? Is it a campaign's last ditch effort to win? A do or die burn fest? Whatever the reasoning behind such a destructive move on the part of Sen. Clinton, it is nonetheless, a very dangerous ploy for such little possible gain.

Is this the kind of politics that we need in the party, let alone in America? The idea which seems to resonate with the American populace is that we need to move away from the typical day to day operations of our political leaders. We need to have a Party, and a Country, that is truly for the people by the people. Not a country controlled by the minority of its citizenry, or by its far right leaning religious minority, nor even by the money-throwing special interest groups, all of which attempt to circumvent the will and betterment of the majority of Americans. No, this is not the type of Party that we should be. This is not what the Democratic Party is all about.

What we are facing is a path that can take us either into a future, which is based on the belief, and yes hope, that we can do truly wonderful things if we pull together, or a future that concedes we have reached the pinnacle of American greatness, and we must go back to the way it was before these disastrous last 7 years. The idea and belief that America should be governed from the bottom up, and not the top down, is a crossroads sign post which we must use to choose our great nations future.

I, personally, will give the benefit of the doubt, and look to what great things we can hope to do with this belief and faith. The past was good, and we were served well by its purveyors, but it was just that, the past. To whatever future we find ourselves living in is yet to be seen, yet the leader of our Party is clear. The time is now to realize the fact that we have our leader for the campaign to reclaim the Presidency of the United States, and we must show unity and support behind Sen. Obama if we are to succeed. The alternative will be more of the same support for the status quo, which is both detrimental, and unacceptable to the American way of life.

Posted by: CitizenXX | February 20, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

egc52556's suggestion is a very good one. But personally, I'd be happy to see Obama simply blow off public financing.

Every US election since WW2 has been bent to the right by the GOP's vastly deeper pockets. We've never seen how Americans would vote if the shoe were on the other foot. I'm very curious to see what the result would be.

The GOP has always hated public financing, and has squeezed every possible advantage out of their greater wealth.

Now, suddenly, comes a year in which, due to their appalling performance in government, they're short of money. And whaddya know? Suddenly the GOP gets morality about public financing. Suddenly they want a level playing field.

**** 'em, I say.

Posted by: bourassa1 | February 20, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The previous post was by Matthew McGovern

Posted by: CitizenXX | February 20, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

What amazes me is that Sen. Obama is constantly called out on things like this. If he states that he will wait until he is declared the Democratic nominee to negotiate an agreement, he's "waffling on his previous postion". If he actually came out and stated his position firmly, the Clintonistas would crucify him for "presuming he was the Democratic nominee before the race was over". The man is in a classic no-win situation. Once he has become the Democratic nominee - and from all appearances at this point, he looks to be the likely nominee - THEN he can address this issue.

Just another non-issue being pushed by the McCains and Clintons of the world, along with the "issue" of plagerism in his speeches. Give it a rest!

Posted by: Tim Rivers | February 20, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I don't fully agree with your assessment.

Obama is still considering a public financing agreement, and of course, there are details to hammer out. This is the first time for such an agreement.

Accepting the pledge would strengthen Obama's position and set a good precedent. To back out now, would strengthen McCain's position.


Posted by: mo | February 20, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

J-- At this point, I could care less that Hillary is losing. I'm okay with Obama as the candidate, and I will vote for him without a doubt. But unlike the ridiculous Obama crowd, I can see all the candidates for who they are -- strengths and weaknesses.

Right now, my only concern is that Obama wins.

While I think rejecting public financing might put him at an advantage logistically, it runs completely counter to his claims to be against the system as it is. The more he does this kind of stuff, the more McCain's claims that "he's not who he says he is" will start to make people wonder if he can deliver. And his record just simply isn't there to fall back on. This man has his inspirational message, period. If people lose trust in that, he's doomed.

You people are so busy worshiping your candidate that you are completely incapable of seeing things for what they are. Obama is not whooping McCain in national polls -- he's beating him by just over the margin of error. And that's BEFORE Obama began getting the level of scrutiny the other front runners have been getting for years. It's not coincidence that we are now starting to see several op eds and editorials questioning whether he can deliver on his promises.

Obama can't afford to have his main selling point -- that he's truly a different kind of politician able to make change that others cannot -- questioned because of his actions. As much as I would hate to see McCain in office, his reputation is ALSO as a change-maker. In the eyes of the public, he's the guy that bucked the Republican party time and time again. That's why he, too, is so exciting to independents. And the worst part is that his biggest achievements have been in some of the areas that Obama wants to lay claim to, like campaign finance. So either Obama has to ensure that people have NO REASON to doubt his word, or he's got to rely on McCain's self-destruction (which could happen, given that famous temper).

If you think this public financing is the last issue, and will not be harped on by McCain, you're wrong. It's easy to make arcane political issues understandable to the public. Especially when it deals with campaign finance.

But why Obama supporters -- the supporters of the "positive" candidate -- are so freaking vicious toward people who support others will never make any sense to me. I mean, clearly my comments were motivated out of jealousy at Obama's success and not a concern for the success of our party. I mean, there's nothing legitimate in what I have to say. . . I must be a Clinton operative.

Grow up.

Posted by: sciencemom | February 20, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

bourassa1 -- I agree with you that it's extraordinarily hypocritical of the Republicans to be yelling about public financing when they've finally been out-maneuvered by a Democrat. I am not sure that applies to John McCain, as much as the Republican establishment, but it's definitely a position of convenience.

I think the Obama advisors will have to weigh the benefits of being able to raise more money against the threat this will pose to his credibility. If they can manage the message on this -- or get it out of the news cycle as quickly as possible -- they'll be in a better position to go ahead rejecting the public financing. But they need to get out ahead of it . . .and so far, they haven't been able to. Same with the plagiarizing nonsense. I personally think it's a ridiculous criticism, but the media can make or break a candidate. And they LOVE to break someone that they've previously built up. The campsign needs to get control of these messages before they become widespread.

Posted by: sciencemom | February 20, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The only Pinocchio's here go to the Fact Checker. The only thing remotely approaching a "commitment" is checking the "yes" box on a questionnaire. We've all been there. A simple yes or no questions that has no simple answer. So you select the one that is closer to your position and elaborate. This is precisely what Obama did. "No" and the comment appended would have made no sense taken together. "Yes" with the attached explanation is fully consistent with the Obama campaign's current position.

Gepetto, someone has stolen your puppet and is using it to advance their own agenda. Best go get it back before he turns into a braying ass again.

Posted by: 33rdStreet | February 20, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"... the 'pledge' comes with asterisks and lawyerly footnotes ..."

I'm far from an ardent Obama supporter, yet even I can see the sense in being cautious when stepping into a complex situation with promises before it is even necessary to do so. Everything in that LA response piece seems sensible to me.

Mr. Dobbs may wish for facile promises, but that doesn't make Obama's comments dishonest (in this case). Actually, my previously meager respect for Obama increased because of his recognition of the complexities of these finance issues.

Dobbs' objection is just plain childish. We need less oversimplification from our politicians, not more. Surely the job of fact-checker carries a more noble mandate than is demonstrated here.

Posted by: RPW | February 20, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Obama seems to be engaging in the same "business-as-usual" political tactics he has decried throughout his campaign. To those that say he will make a decision when he is the nominee must not be listening to his victory speeches because the way he addresses McCain and Clinton seems to me like he sees himself as the front-runner and eventual nominee anyways so there is no reason to delay a decision (plus it would show confidence in his position as front-runner). And to all of the Obama apologists who want to make an excuse for him that he hasn't pledged anything yet, that he will "aggressively pursue" an agreement with the Republican nominee when he becomes the nominee are showing how naive they really are to Washington politics. Are you people so blinded by your immense love and respect for the man that you can't see when he is pulling the same crap as any other politician in Washington, which is to wait on the sidelines and choose a course of action based upon which will be most beneficial to himself at that time? If you're really interested in changing Washington politics, make a choice and stick with it now. I am an Obama supporter but I am not an Obama apologist. Stick to your schtick (or stump) and face the consequences like a real man.

Posted by: Ben | February 20, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Um...Obama said "aggressively pursue" just like Bush/McCain say they are "aggressively pursuing" political reconciliation in Iraq. Is it a goal? Yup, but that doesn't guarantee that it will happen. What English words in Obama's statements are hard to understand? Calling this piece an objective "fact check" would be laughable if it wasn't this pathetic. Sorry HRC scribes, it's so over for HRC, WJC and their Washington toadies.

Posted by: joe johnson | February 20, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh please. Let's sit down after the nomination and make sure we have an agreement that doesn't handcuff the Democrats while the Republicans run circles around them with 527s. Everyone should read the freakin' USAToday op-ed. Ugh.

Posted by: Nissl | February 20, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Where was the Fact Checker in 2003, When Bush, Cheney all the republicans Said there was WMD, Uranuim tube, and Mushrum cloud.

Posted by: Tony | February 20, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Obama must stick to the impression that he has given in terms of accepting public financing. I am an Obama supporter, but would be very disillusioned if he were to change his tone now that he is no longer the underdog. It goes against everything that he is supposed to stand for, and I find it ironic that those clamoring for him to go back on this in the name of $ are no different from Rush Limbaugh, who claims that McCain Feingold takes away our "Freedom of Speech". These same people, were the roles to be reversed, would undoubtedly be claiming that rich republicans were buying the election for their candidate. Be consistent. The validity of an ideology or policy cannot be based upon whether or not it benefits one's own side. There is a word for that: hypocracy. While it is true that Obama has not legally binding "pledge", this is a political campaign, not a legal trial. All the nuances and obfuscations in his language and deate over this and that will only serve to show him to be the sort of spineless equivocating democratic candidate that the conservative pundits love to pounce on. His greatest strength, his integrity and desire to "tell it like it is" will come under attack just like John Kerry's service record was attacked, and trying to explain away complex nuances with legal analysis and definitions of terms (see "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.") will only serve to fuel the flames and distract from his message of change and hope. Mark my words, he will be sunk.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

sciencemom,

I don't disagree with much of what you say, but you've left out an essential aspect of this campaign financing issue. Obama committed to coming to an agreement with the opposition, which MUST include agreements and methods to absolutely CONTROL CIRCUMVENTION of the SPIRIT of the agreement. Republicans are very well known for spending incredible sums of money via political action committees (PACS) that the candidate could then claim he had nothing to do with. Thus, arguing that Obama should absolutely COMMIT to public financing BEFORE that issue is resolved, simply IS NOT FAIR.

Posted by: James | February 20, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I believe PACS are pretty well understood by most people and that most people would recognize the inherent unfairness of the public financing unless that issue has been satisfactorilly resolved.

Posted by: James | February 20, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

It will be suicidal for the Obama campaign to uncritically accept a pledge to use only public funding when we have seen the Republicans use lobbyists' money and outside groups like those who funded the Swiftboat attacks in order to beat down the Democrats. Obama is absolutely intelligent in demanding legal safeguards against Republican secret and not so secret big-money slush funds. To accept a pledge with no safeguards is like agreeing to fight with both your hands tied behind your back while your opponent has concealed and lethal arms surrounding you. Hillary has never even approached this issue, so who is she to attack Obama on this issue? Her hypocrisy knows no bounds and she will tear him and the party down before she will admit defeat.

Posted by: shirlin | February 20, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

There's an easy way to address this- Obama sticks to the pledge and then donors funnel these funds to 527's just like the republican's do. Beat them at their own game. Whether or not Obama accepts the pledge, he will be attacked by outside money, so he should keep the impression that he has given of being above the moneyed politics of yesterday. Then, unaffiliated groups can take a page from the Bush Rove playbook while Barack officially "denounces" their tactics, looks like the nice guy, and keeps the moral high ground. Why do Democrats not understand how to play the game, after they have been beaten over and over again by the same strategy? Stop whining and adapt!

Posted by: Trip | February 20, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

this is the problem in american politics: leaders aren't allowed to adapt- and if they do, they are considered flip floppers. bottom line, if we had leaders that adapted, then HRC wouldn't still defend her vote to attack Iraq and her more recent vote characterizing the Quds force in Iran as a terrorist organization (read: authorizing force in Iran). The main issue that we have public financing is to minimze the influence of PACs and lobbyists- Obama DOES NOT take money from these groups. Thus, the issue that it addresses is already integrated into his campaign. Ironic that those candidates that take the most $$ from PACs and K street are those that are up on arms. This $$ is coming mostly from small donors that comprise the civic fabric of this country, not monied narrow special interests like clinton and mccain receive their $$ from. Great to see that the people, the little guy can outraise and even worry those that depend on corporate donations- a positive sign of the times. A new generation of leadership is upon us. The only way for hillary to win is to steal the election, mccain will flat out lose as he positions himself as the continuation of the Bush presidency- an across the board disaster in most people's minds (hence the sub 30 approval rating)

go obama

Posted by: ashish | February 20, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

2 noses for an outright lie.
St. Obama can do no wrong


Posted by: tray | February 20, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The "Fact" Checker is all but a paid political advertisement for Hillary Clinton. You should work for Hillary's campaign strategy department if you don't already because if this is the worst dirt you can dig up on Obama, then you and your cohorts are in trouble.

Posted by: Ted | February 20, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

It appears that Obama may not be a man of his word. Why would he now want to seek public financing when he is on top. It would not be convenient for him. We as Americans need to watch out for this guy. He is the type that is going to have skeletons jump out of his closet just when we can't do anything about it. First its lifted speeches from other politicians and now empty pledges. I cannot wait to see the next discrepancy with this guy

Posted by: Mani2008 | February 20, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

James -- I agree with you that the 527s are a major issue in campaign finance, and also that most of the public understands their role after the Swift Boaters episodes. And I understand (and hold) the fear about the Republicans attacking through that mechanism.

But my point was never that Obama was wrong in whatever decision he makes -- I am not sure what is the best decision in this case. I don't trust the Republicans either.

But he, more than anyone else in this race, has to keep up appearances. It is the APPEARANCE of stepping back from something he's been railing pretty hard about that could get him. I think the nuances of whether he really provided a commitment or simply said he'd commit if he could get an agreement will be completely lost on the public. He was willing to talk about it fairly strongly in the past, and now that he's winning he's claiming he can't discuss the issue until after he's the nominee.

To the public, it will look as if he was strongly in support of public financing (and certainly that would be what they assumed of him) and now he's refusing to stand his ground once it suits him to do otherwise. To say "well we never REALLY committed" just reinforces the sense that they are backpeddling.

Posted by: sciencemom | February 20, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Trip . . . I hate to say it, but I wonder if you're not right. Obama can in no way afford to look like he's playing in a dirty game, given his message of hope and positivity. So maybe the 529s stand a better chance. But I really wish I could believe that he could change the game altogether. It's sad to think that we need to stoop to that level.

Then again, Obama has been leveling attacks at Clinton for a long time. Yet, he still maintains the impenetrable aura of being "above all that". So maybe he's a master at this stuff. I sure hope so!

(Sorry die-hard Obama supporters. I know you think that Clinton has attacked him and he's been a victim in all this. But he definitely went after her just as hard, especially early on when she was still talking about how she could beat Guiliani. And please don't start with "She started it . . ." Believe it or not, Clinton supporters are NOT the enemy)

Posted by: sciencemom | February 20, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

There was no unqualified yes, and Obama would have been stupid to have given an unqualified answer. Unlike you idiots, WaPo, he is cognizant of the 527s and what they can do, and making an unqualified pledge on this would allow the Republicans to repeat the
Swift Boat nonsense. I want someone who is smart and principled in office, and Barack Obama is showing that he fits that bill. It's not a simple situation, you simpletons.

Posted by: ridiculous WaPo idiots | February 20, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I never contribute toward so-called public financing on my income tax return, so I'm not particularly moved by the issue. I would say that it makes sense to me that while Barack Obama is still in a race with Hillary Clinton, who up until recently was awash in money, he needs to continue to raise money. This could be more difficult to do if potential contributors hear that their money might need to be 'returned' at a later date should Obama accept public financing for the general election. Knowing this aspect, It's not surprising that both Clinton and McCain are wanting to do what they can in raising this issue to try to discourage Obama from raising more money privately, something both McCain and Clinton are showing weakness in at the moment. Just the usual politics of distortion on the part of Clinton/McCain, not so cleverly disquised.

Posted by: TonyV | February 20, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

sciencemom,

I might be wrong, but I think one of the things this campaign has demonstrated thus far is that the general electorate is more capable of understanding complicated issues than most politicians have given them credit for.

This was the Clintons' problem. They were not been able to overcome the fact that most people can easily and quickly identify a disingenuous attack. This is a result of cultural changes in humor, in advertising, and in discourse.

I think jounalists today are as guilty of this as politicians. They continue to focus on the "gotcha" political articles of identifying even the smallest inconsistency and trying to blow it up into a big issue.

Most people recognize the silliness of expecting politicians to be perfectly consistent in votes or in attitudes over time, but that reasonable perspective hasn't reached the mindset of journalists. Perhaps because it's an easy article to write in a short amount of time. Or, perhaps they naively believe it's important to be perfectly consistent. Or, perhaps, like the Clinton campaign, they are locked in an outdated paradigm.

Posted by: James | February 20, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama had good intentions in mind originally, but upon further reflection, is afraid of typical republican cheating to steal the election (again). What protections would be in place to keep Exxon from airing their own private commercials endorsing McCain without McCain's "approval"? Obama would not have similar big business endorsements on his side and would put him at a big disadvantage.

Posted by: Scott | February 20, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The only thing he pledged was to negotiate if he's nominated.

He hasn't been nominated, and he hasn't repudiated the idea of negotiating if he nominated, so what's the fuss all about?

Posted by: Where's the pledge? | February 20, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Cant say i agree with your analysis about Obama's honesty. He did not say yes I will accept public financing if my opponent will. He said i will see if my opponent and i can come to an agreement on public financing. There is a difference between a pledge and his statement. Obama shld explain to the american people what this is about and then decline to accept public funds only. The year that the democrats are out pacing the republicans in donations is not the year to accept public financing.

Posted by: rbprtman23 | February 20, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Now why would Obama give up his money advantage?

Hope does get you to White House, outspending your opponent does!

Any Illinois politician knows this one. It's a no-brainer, he'll say no, and bury McCain under an avalanche of money.

Posted by: camasca | February 20, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

This is the only the beginning of Obama's dancing and wiggling himself out of promises of "change." It's sad to see so many people caught up in this new "fad" to vote Obama and not understanding the seriousness and ramifications of their vote. That this is not a "fad." Instead of looking at this article as someone trying to "nit pick," you should pay attention to the yellow light and take note that he's already wiggling and dancing and double-talking, side-stepping, calling out his lawyers, and giving answers that the average American with no law degree would never understand on a issue that is so small, and he hasn't even made it to the White House.

Posted by: MsAh1on1 | February 20, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

The Obama supporters are quite puzzling. They want him because he's "different" and "inspires" and don't think that Hillary does the same. Yet, their defense of him is "so, what, Hillary does the same". How preposterous.

Posted by: Decided | February 20, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

This commentary on your part is meaningless and throws slime on Obama without good reason unless you address, in equal depth, Hillary Clinton's shifting on this issue.

It's get on Obama day at the Post and Times. Got a horse race with a winner, let's criticize him (Samuelson, Brooks, everybody) for being too good to be true. Michelle O is right: The US has sucked politically for 30 years. Please don't apologize for saying this. And Obama should not have apologized for using the words of his speech-writer! Is the press brain dead?

Posted by: walden | February 20, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Fact Checker. But even reading it your way, Obama has said repeatedly and unequivocally that he would pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee, not that he would opt-in to public financing regardless. Only a fool, which he isn't, would agree to public financing under a scheme where his opponent exploits every available loophole to avert the restrictions of the laws. The USA Today op-ed is consistent with Obama's previous statements. If McCain plays by the rules, so will he...

Posted by: Annevita in Maine | February 20, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Is Obama the American Mandela? Obama brings a message of hope and change to a country at the crossroads. It choice between the past and the future. Is Obama the American Mandela who could inspire Americans to a better future? And a future where America takes it rightful place at the global table? Is he the one? The question of whether Obama is the American Mandela is discussed in my blog at http://angryafrican.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/is-obama-the-american-mandela/

Posted by: Angry African | February 20, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama's right to hesitate. He's also sworn himself against 527s... the last thing Obama should do is tie his hands financially, then get swiftboated left and right by groups he can't counter.

Posted by: Brian in NYC | February 20, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

What a surprise that the first comment from an Obama supporter would be "who cares, it's nitpicking". Nothing Obama says or does can dissuade the kool-aid drinkers. I doubt the general electorate will be quite so forgiving in the fall.

Posted by: froghammer | February 20, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Once again we can see the deficiencies of our educational system. Those who conclude from the above referenced quotes that the Obama campaign committed to public financing need a lesson in inductive and deductive reasoning. All statements clearly and consistently present how this issue will be resolved. Win the nomination followed by negotiation with the opposition to reach an agreement from both parties. Those who are honest and LITERATE can clearly understand where the campaign stands on this issue.

Posted by: ysrcadams | February 20, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Must read articles "Ready on Day One?" http://savagepolitics.com and "Barack Obama;s Apostasy" http://savagepolitics.com/?p=101.

BRILLIANT analysis!

Posted by: elsylee28 | February 20, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Compared to Hillary and McCain, Barack's character is the gold standard. Why focus on whether or not Barack's exploration of the issue is a "firm commitment" when the Clintons won't release tax returns or Hillary Clinton's White House Correspondence in the Presidential Library -- or when McCain was prepared to borrow money and use US Taxpayers' money as collateral had he lost in Iowa? Those are far more egregious crimes than checking into something and deciding later it might not be right.

Posted by: Luswei | February 20, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Billary/McCain supporters (yes, that includes the media) are desperately trying to find trivia to to stop the freight train heading their way.

Obama has the support (financial and otherwise) of MILLIONS of us who are willing to write a check every month to save our country from the war party. Individually we are not as rich as some traditional political-favor-purchasers, but collectively we are going to bulldoze you out of Washington.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

James:

I do hope you are right, but I seriously doubt that the American public is somehow better able to understand the complexities of political decision-making. It's hard to imagine that things have turned so far in the 3 years since Kerry was defeated by a sitting president who was largely believed to be failing at his job, all because he was pegged as a "flip flopper". And I think this is especially serious for Obama because -- up until now -- his reputation is riding SOLELY on his role as a "change agent". It would be hard for them to pull up his record to ride on, since he's been so solidly progressive (something that's appealling to me, but would be problematic in the general election).

Maybe it will be different, but I lost faith in the American public's ability to choose the best person for the job back in 2004.

I don't believe that Clinton's failure was due to the public's ability to understand complicated issues. Seeing something as disengenuous or self-serving isn't the same as understanding complicated arguments. And the reason Clinton's campaign fell was that they made some really questionable and unappealing comments after SC. These comments played on people's fears about the Clintons' personalities and moral standards. She confirmed the fears of those who were otherwise willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. The media played into it, in my opinion, but that's what they do . . .

I think people's perceptions of their candidates are strong, and that their interpretation of political maneuvers and stances is based on those pre-conceptions. For those who doubt whether Obama is truly the man he claims to be, these sorts of things could be what turns them away. On the other hand, if he's managed to convince people fairly strongly that he really is this "good guy" who's trying to change the rules, the political nuances will be forgiven.

That's my 2 cents. I am heading home now --it's been fun chatting with you. I've appreciated your comments! And I'll try to become a little more optimistic about our populace!

Posted by: sciencemom | February 20, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

If there are no laws requiring Barack Obama to take public financing, then his donors approaching one million should also have a say. Why would we want to handicap Barack Obama, just because McCain can't find enough supporters to fund his own campaign? Go Barack!

Posted by: roger | February 20, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

If I was in BHO's shoes, here's that I would do:

First of all, McCain has much at stake to prove that these campaign finance limitations on candidates are "good" for elections. But, as we all know, groups are standing on the sidelines waiting to cut you off at the needs under the guise of being "independent" of a candidate. And we all know well where that goes, especially after that swiftboating of John Kerry. Do not allow McCain to use you as his experiment to test his theory about public campaign financing. If you go along with McCain, you will have given him the upper hand.

You're being double-teamed and bullied accepting public campaign financing based on some perceived "promise,: when you're not even there yet. Also, McCain is also relying on HRC to do the dirty work of shaming you into agreeing to public financing. One more reason to dismiss his request. HRC has nothing to offer at this point, since the way she ran her campaign is clear for all to see. Even HRC could not keep up with you. From where I set, McCain, HRC and others of the old guard are scared of allowing you to set a future standard of fundraising from the grassroots, so that want to block you at this pass. Careful...McCain and HRC are also trying to get MSM to shame you into going McCain's way. The GOP really wanted HRC as the Democratic Party candidate, and it looks less likely as time goes on that they will get their wish. So, the GOP knows that they will be stuck with you at the top of the ticket, and they need a way to level the playing field with their uninspiring candidate to play on your level.

Remember...McCain's own party isn't even on board with public campaign financing, and segments of his party has even publicly and loudly expressed derision about the campaign finance law. That's part of the issues that segments of the GOP has with McCain right now. You can be sure that this folks will jump on McCain's bandwagon -- especially since McCain needs a something to fire up his people and rally them around this issue. You can stay above the fray as you've done in other instances with HRC. People like them are only interested in maintaining the status quo.

Yes...go ahead and negotiate "aggressively," but negotiate hard to make the deal a "no deal" -- that is, nothing can be agreed upon on by both sides. This option maintains your option to raise campaign funds from the grassroots while still leaving open the public campaign finance option. From his experience during the primaries, McCain knows that he's got nothing on you as for fundraising. Since his candidacy lacks enthusiasm from his own ranks, McCain knows that he'll have trouble keeping up with you. And for that, he might even think he will have a harder time competing against you in the presidential sweepstakes.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

If I was in BHO's shoes, here's that I would do:

First of all, McCain has much at stake to prove that these campaign finance limitations on candidates are "good" for elections. But, as we all know, groups are standing on the sidelines waiting to cut you off at the needs under the guise of being "independent" of a candidate. And we all know well where that goes, especially after that swiftboating of John Kerry. Do not allow McCain to use you as his experiment to test his theory about public campaign financing. If you go along with McCain, you will have given him the upper hand.

You're being double-teamed and bullied accepting public campaign financing based on some perceived "promise,: when you're not even there yet. Also, McCain is also relying on HRC to do the dirty work of shaming you into agreeing to public financing. One more reason to dismiss his request. HRC has nothing to offer at this point, since the way she ran her campaign is clear for all to see. Even HRC could not keep up with you. From where I set, McCain, HRC and others of the old guard are scared of allowing you to set a future standard of fundraising from the grassroots, so that want to block you at this pass. Careful...McCain and HRC are also trying to get MSM to shame you into going McCain's way. The GOP really wanted HRC as the Democratic Party candidate, and it looks less likely as time goes on that they will get their wish. So, the GOP knows that they will be stuck with you at the top of the ticket, and they need a way to level the playing field with their uninspiring candidate to play on your level.

Remember...McCain's own party isn't even on board with public campaign financing, and segments of his party has even publicly and loudly expressed derision about the campaign finance law. That's part of the issues that segments of the GOP has with McCain right now. You can be sure that this folks will jump on McCain's bandwagon -- especially since McCain needs a something to fire up his people and rally them around this issue. You can stay above the fray as you've done in other instances with HRC. People like them are only interested in maintaining the status quo.

Yes...go ahead and negotiate "aggressively," but negotiate hard to make the deal a "no deal" -- that is, nothing can be agreed upon on by both sides. This option maintains your option to raise campaign funds from the grassroots while still leaving open the public campaign finance option. From his experience during the primaries, McCain knows that he's got nothing on you as for fundraising. Since his candidacy lacks enthusiasm from his own ranks, McCain knows that he'll have trouble keeping up with you. And for that, he might even think he will have a harder time competing against you in the presidential sweepstakes.

Posted by: *** | February 20, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

There's an easy way to address this- Obama sticks to the pledge and then donors funnel these funds to 527's just like the republican's do. Beat them at their own game. Whether or not Obama accepts the pledge, he will be attacked by outside money, so he should keep the impression that he has given of being above the moneyed politics of yesterday. Then, unaffiliated groups can take a page from the Bush Rove playbook while Barack officially "denounces" their tactics, looks like the nice guy, and keeps the moral high ground. Why do Democrats not understand how to play the game, after they have been beaten over and over again by the same strategy? Stop whining and adapt!

Posted by: Trip | February 20, 2008 01:37 PM

========================================

I agree! If there was some sure way to insure that it would be a fair and even 85million each contest, sure, go for it.

But we all know this will not happen. 527's etc. will destroy him. he has pledged not to go the way of the 527 (even though no candidate controls these groups. wink wink), he needs to make sure he will be competitive.

The fact alone that he is not accepting lobby and special interest group money is enough for me. In a perfect world I would hold him to the pledge, but presently I release him from it.

(What we really are all blah blah'ing about is something that isn't even at a point where it should be discussed. Clinton is talking about it because she is desperate, and McCain is talking about it because he is the challenger, and he wants to win).

Posted by: CitizenXX | February 20, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

The fact of the matter is Obama stands for hope that we can believe in and who cares of the public funding. I would vote for him no matter what, he has a genuine personality that has turned a lot of Clintonistas and I wonder why? We are starving for change and Obama is our hope~

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

The fact of the matter is Obama stands for hope that we can believe in and who cares of the public funding. I would vote for him no matter what, he has a genuine personality that has turned a lot of Clintonistas and I wonder why? We are starving for change and Obama is our hope~

Posted by: Allison | February 20, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

The fact of the matter is Obama stands for hope that we can believe in and who cares of the public funding. I would vote for him no matter what, he has a genuine personality that has turned a lot of Clintonistas and I wonder why? We are starving for change and Obama is our hope~

Posted by: Allison | February 20, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it true that John McCain just opted out of the public financing for the primary LAST WEEK--after he had the nomination locked up, and his loans secured?

And that it seems to be the case that the only reason he left the public financing option open for the primary was in case he did poorly, he would use that money to pay his debts...

Since you haven't done a FactCheck on McCain in a few weeks, maybe you can take a look at that.

And he already wants Obama to make a commitment for the general election when he is not yet the nominee?

Posted by: Mr Furious | February 20, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

So, Obama has agreed to "aggressively pursue" an agreement with the GOP nominee unless 527 PAC Attack groups of the Swift Boat type spend unlimited resources to smear and negatively define him. That's not "good faith" -- that's like Obama "aggressively pursuing" an agreement unless the sun comes out tomorrow.

McCain's right: "Washington doublespeak" by Obama

Posted by: JakeD | February 20, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Obama is no different. It's difficult to hold him accountable--always adds ifs and buts to all his statement. If this is a harbinger of things to come, then I think he will be worse than Bush.

Posted by: adam | February 20, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Beginning with Richard Nixon and his attack dogs, the right wing of the Republican party has funded and supported a political smear machine run by Lee Atwater and later Karl Rove. These are the people that gave us Willy Horton, the Arkansas Project, the Swiftboaters, and has already tried to portray Obama as Madrassa-educated Muslim trojan horse who intends to infiltrate and destroy our system. John Kerry estimated that the sleaze machine spent $100 million against him, distorting his military record while portraying the AWOL candidate as a hero. Obama can expect the same.

He should raise as much as he can; he'll need it.

Posted by: tmaertens | February 20, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

What never gets discussed is the underlying issue: public campaign finance is a strategy to eliminate the influence of special interest money on politics. But the Obama campaign has invented--or stumbled upon---an equally effective way of achieving that objective, namely, relying on small donors contributing repeatedly over the internet, without the slightest illusion that they're buying "access" or influence with their donations. That's a profoundly transformational development in American politics. It democratizes campaign finance and shuts out special interest influence at least as thoroughly and effectively as taxpayer-supported public finance. And it makes public finance suddenly look obsolete, yesterday's solution eclipsed by a novel Internet-age alternative.

Of course, McCain knows he can't compete on that turf; without public financing, he'll have to go hat in hand right back to the special interests, and they don't seem too interested in funding Republicans this year. So the only way he can be competitive is to get Obama to surrender his biggest single campaign advantage, his tremendous grassroots appeal to small donors, i.e., ordinary citizens, a mechanism that is not only bringing in record amounts of cash but also is the major driver of his incredible grassroots volunteer network as all those 900,000 + donor names are fed back into local organizing efforts and recruited as campaign volunteers. Public finance threatens to disable that kind of grassroots democracy, and to that extent is not a desirable alternative.

Let's not lose sight of the goal here, people. We want to take back our politics from special interest influence. Public finance is one way, but not the only way and maybe not the best way, to achieve that objective. Obama's million-volunteer, million-donor small-contributor army is a potent new alternative. Maybe we should give it a chance to see what it can do before we reject it in kneejerk fealty to that old sacred cow of public finance.

Posted by: bclintonk | February 20, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree with JPHemingway's comment it was eloquently written in my opionion. As a registered Democratic and African American middle aged woman I too am going to hold the canidates to there words. I am not going to vote for someone who pledges empty promises, I've had enough of that in this lifetime. I will be voting for the person who I think can help us become what so many qoute as the "the leaders of a free world".

Posted by: Asha | February 20, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I find this amusing..Obama said what he planned to do once he got the nomination and that has yet to be determined. Essentially he is being called to the mat about something that has not occurred (Mr. Dobbs et al. must have a crystal ball). Conversely i find it interesting that very little is being said about Hillary's disingenuous/dishonest pledge she made to the DNC as per the Florida and Michigan delegates. It appears that everyone is worried about Obama possibly not doing what he said he would try to do if he got the nomination and nobody seems to care that Hillary can't even keep the pledge she made to her own party except through semantics.

Posted by: erich | February 20, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

DID YOU READ THIS? THIS IS THE BEST BLOG ON THE SUBJECT!!!!
____________________________________

What never gets discussed is the underlying issue: public campaign finance is a strategy to eliminate the influence of special interest money on politics. But the Obama campaign has invented--or stumbled upon---an equally effective way of achieving that objective, namely, relying on small donors contributing repeatedly over the internet, without the slightest illusion that they're buying "access" or influence with their donations. That's a profoundly transformational development in American politics. It democratizes campaign finance and shuts out special interest influence at least as thoroughly and effectively as taxpayer-supported public finance. And it makes public finance suddenly look obsolete, yesterday's solution eclipsed by a novel Internet-age alternative.

Of course, McCain knows he can't compete on that turf; without public financing, he'll have to go hat in hand right back to the special interests, and they don't seem too interested in funding Republicans this year. So the only way he can be competitive is to get Obama to surrender his biggest single campaign advantage, his tremendous grassroots appeal to small donors, i.e., ordinary citizens, a mechanism that is not only bringing in record amounts of cash but also is the major driver of his incredible grassroots volunteer network as all those 900,000 + donor names are fed back into local organizing efforts and recruited as campaign volunteers. Public finance threatens to disable that kind of grassroots democracy, and to that extent is not a desirable alternative.

Let's not lose sight of the goal here, people. We want to take back our politics from special interest influence. Public finance is one way, but not the only way and maybe not the best way, to achieve that objective. Obama's million-volunteer, million-donor small-contributor army is a potent new alternative. Maybe we should give it a chance to see what it can do before we reject it in kneejerk fealty to that old sacred cow of public finance.

Posted by: bclintonk | February 20, 2008 05:54 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

This Obama affair is so typical of naive, love-struck lovers. You are so enraptured with your beloved you just can't see anything that looks negative or smacks of a common sense warning.

During the courtship you can only see the perfect beauty of your new lover, ignoring the tell tale signs that later become so freakin obvious and drive you nuts you ask yourself:
"What was I thinking? Why didn't I see this before?"

And then you ask your friends why they didn't say anything. Did they see these flaws?

Yea, they tell you. But you wouldn't listen cuz you was all in love and stuff.

He's back pedaling and you know it. Just something to look at. Something to wonder about. Right now it's only public financing which no one gives a fig about, but once he's in the white House, well then we'll see how many other things he'll be changing course on.

Posted by: pflyer | February 20, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Based on political tactics in general, coming to an agreement where there are very few loopholes for cheating seems to be a very valid concern for any honest man who doesn't want to enter into an agreement with a waiting bus ready to run him over.

I think he's been very clear all along and frankly, both Hilary and McCain are depending on the stupidity of the general public to make a bigger deal of this than need be.

He said in his op ed piece, it can be done IF THERE IS A WORKABLE AGREEMENT that discourages cheating. Gee, how is this surprising?

Posted by: Molly Dunning | February 20, 2008 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Is this politics as usual? Sounds like depends on what the definition of is is!

Posted by: M Cohen | February 20, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Dear Fact Checker;
I have read all of the alleged facts, including the FEC letter, and I just don't see how you come to the conclusion that Mr. Obama is backtracking. As sophisticated as you claim to be, I cannot believe that you insist that there is only one way to interpret this situation. It sounds like you started with a conclusion and started from there. I try to be very thorough and considering all the evidence, you just seem to want to slam a guy who has been pretty honest about his dealings with the public. What's more, you know that if he does not place paremeters on his participation in the alleged "pledge", sneaky politicians will use his words to limit him while running amuck themselves. I am dissapointed that you have chosen such an approach and with that said, maybe you should think about changing your name.

Posted by: Informed Voter | February 20, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Good for Obama! You are prematurely making a mountain out of a mole hill. Obama is the better candidate and not only will I vote for him in November, I will do everything I can to make sure he gets elected.
Why don't you focus on the crooked, lying Republicans who are now hoping Karl Rove can cook up some juicy lies or cheat the system through some defective voting machines!

Posted by: Bernadette T. Vadurro | February 20, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

What Obama originally said:
"If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

Okay - he's not the Democratic nominee YET - and it looks like all he pledged to do was have a serious discussion about the nuances of an agreement to have public financing (because as he says in his op-ed today, there are ways the other candidate can do an end run around public financing)

Why is this so hard to understand? I don't see a pledge broken here - he still says that if he is the nominee he'll talk to McCain about the issue and try to reach an agreement.

Seems consistent and refreshingly open and honest to me.

Posted by: njite | February 20, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

The Fact Checker is dead wrong on this one and Obama is a class act to even consider public financing given his ability to raise massive amounts of cash from we little people.

McCain and Clinton are playing gutter politics on this one and I'm amazed that the pundits are swallowing their garbage.

The 2/20 USA Today piece by Obama is 100% correct. He would be a fool to take public financing without some serious rules of the game being agreed to by both sides. Even then I would not trust the Swiftboater types to play clean.

Posted by: Doug M | February 20, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

McCain/Hutchinson '08

Finally, a strong, smart woman - just a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

Posted by: MsGames | February 20, 2008 11:58 PM | Report abuse

DougM and njite:

Obama says he'll talk to McCain about the issue and try to reach an agreement, but now includes the "poison pill" of McCain has to control 527s that are out of his control -- you REALLY think that's "good faith" negotiating, consistent or refreshingly open and honest? Sounds like "Washington doublespeak" to me. I'm surprised the Fact Checker gave Obama ONLY two Pinocchios.

Posted by:

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Fact Checker is carying McCain's water for him on this one.

Like earlier RwC has pointed out, FC's own research shows that Obama never committed himself to public financing.

The question was "Did Barack Obama ever commit himself to accept public financing for the general election if the Republicans made a similar pledge?"

The answer is he had more than one if.

So if anything, Fact Checker should grow some ears to better hear what is being said.

Of course, considering actual evidence and answering the relevant question was never the strong suit of the Spanish Inquistion!

btw, Is it true that the Fact Checker column is merely an exchange program with the Washington Times gone awry?

Posted by: FC is a HACK | February 21, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

What is unspoken here is the fact that McCain painted himself into a financial corner by using his proposed public financing as collateral to secure a loan:

"By JIM KUHNHENN
The Associated Press
Thursday, February 21, 2008; 9:48 AM
WASHINGTON -- The government's top campaign finance regulator says John McCain can't drop out of the primary election's public financing system until he answers questions about a loan he obtained to kickstart his once faltering presidential campaign.

Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason, in a letter to McCain this week, said the all-but-certain Republican nominee needs to assure the commission that he did not use the promise of public money to help secure a $4 million line of credit he obtained in November."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/21/AR2008022100336.html

Posted by: edwcorey | February 21, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The Fact Checker is disingenuous and doesn't read his own newspaper. He should have mentioned that McCain is using subterfuge here, trying to entrap Obama.

"By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 16, 2008; Page A10
John McCain's cash-strapped campaign borrowed $1 million from a Bethesda bank two weeks before the New Hampshire primary by pledging to enter the public financing system if his bid for the presidency faltered, newly disclosed records show."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/15/AR2008021503639.html

Posted by: ed | February 21, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"The Fact Checker is disingenuous and doesn't read his own newspaper. He should have mentioned that McCain is using subterfuge here, trying to entrap Obama."

I agree. The WaPo needs to update this in light of the new facts. I am especially skeptical of how WaPo essentially parroted McCain's attacks in their editorial, "Waffle".

Posted by: James M. | February 21, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Will Hillary do the Right Thing?

To my fellow Democratic Party American citizens; what is best for the Democratic Party? No matter what side of the Obama/Hillary debate you may fall on, and by my previous posts it should be clear whom I would like to see as our Party's leader, there are questions that supercede my own desires in this race. Questions I feel, that may very well effect to future of our Party.

When does a Party members personal goals and aspirations cause more harm to our Party, then the benefits that they would bring to it? Is there a limit to the destruction of one of our own Parties candidates, by another of our Party's candidates? Can we justify it as being part of the election process, or is it just the way it is, with no need for a limit on internal Party member sabotage? As members of our Party is there no limit to our eating of our own young?

We face a growing situation within this nomination race, where it seems more and more as if the actions of one of our Party's own, along with there surrogates, "friends", and now 527's, are pulling out the stops. They are acting against one of our Party's own, with the old Machiavellian "end justifies the means" approach, with seemingly no care as to the overall and long term effects on the Party that these actions may incur.

Is the Democratic Party the party of the status quo, uninterested in possibilities of Party expansion, unity, diversification, as well as governmental control? Is it wise to cut our nose off in spite of our face, and continue to let slide the destruction of our Party?

The nature of, in this case Sen. Clinton's campaign, is becoming a most divisive wedge for our Party. The encouragement by her campaign, in unison with the Republican nominee challenger, into forcing Sen. Obama into accepting a "pledge" that would tie his financial hands, is in my opinion far across the line of Party spirit.

It is understandable that the Republicans would want Sen. Obama to do such a thing, considering that Sen. McCain's financial resources will be severely limited during his campaign. Yet, it is even more so repugnant that the Clinton campaign would do such a thing, when the call by McCain to "honor" such a pledge by Sen. Obama is ludicrous in the first place.

The facts of this pledge are this. Sen. Obama, along with other candidates, were given a questionnaire where one of its questions asked that if they were the nominee, would they accept public campaign financing and it's limits, thus forgoing private financing? The boxes to check were either yes or no. After checking yes, Sen. Obama's spokesperson, Bill Burton said, "It would be a situation where if the Republican agreed to opt-in to the public financing system, it would be something we would explore, and that, if nominated, Mr. Obama would aggressively pursue an agreement" with whomever his GOP opponent was.

On February 17th 2008, Sen. Clinton surrogate Lanny Davis, said on CNN's Late Edition, "Senator Obama's words are contradicted by deeds. He said he would -- he pledged to take public financing as now Senator McCain has pledged. He has just reversed that pledge." This is, besides attempting to confuse the American people by changing the meaning of what Sen. Obama said, just blatantly wrong. And the nature of this statement is evermore so destructive and dirty, because as of Feb. 11th 2008, McCain, a self proclaimed advocate of campaign finance limits, had turned down government matching funds.

As of Feb. 11th, Sen. Obama would have no call to opt-into the government financed campaign funds. Yet, both McCain's people, along with the Clinton campaign were in line with the old-school political ways of the past, and both accused Sen. Obama of going back on his so-called pledge.

We can understand the reason's behind McCain's unfounded attacks, but what would be the justification of outright dirty politics on the part of the Clinton campaign? Is it justifiable in an election race to out and right lie to the members of the Democratic Party (read: you and I), about one of our own? It is understandable that Republicans would do such a thing, for they are the party of Bush and Cheney, but to sit with them, as Sen. Clinton has done, leads me to wonder what is more important to her? Is she fighting for the power, strength, and ideals of the Democratic Party, or is it the cushions of the top seat of Party power that she craves? Is there a feeling of self-entitlement within Sen. Hillary Clinton, or a blind lust for power, or is it just another mismanaged step made by the candidate whom claims to be ready on day one? You decide.

Posted by: CitizenXX | February 21, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

He's NOT new politics AND he's green.

Clinton '08

Posted by: Susan | February 21, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, as long as the Republicans were able to realize millions of dollars more and outrun the Democrats in the money game, they didn't want spending limits. Now they are losing that war, they want limits. They always want to change the rules when they are losing.

Posted by: majorteddy | February 21, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

IS IT ANY WONDER THAT THE MEDIA DIMINISHED AND EVEN BLOCKED VIEWS OF JOHN EDWARDS.HE WAS THE ONLY CANDIDATE TRULY SUPPORTING THE PEOPLE AND WAS NOT TAKING ANY MONEY FROM THE CORPORATE MEDIA OR LOBBYISTS. SO THIS MEANS THAT THE CORPORATE MEDIA CONTINUES TO DOMINATE THE SCENR BECAUSE JOHN EDWARDS IS NOT THERE TO DEFEND THE PEOPLE.SO LITTLE WILL CHANGE.

Posted by: Elaine | February 22, 2008 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Why, yes.

Obama should pledge to take only public funds without any pre-set conditions.

That way, we can have Swiftboat Redux in 2008.

But, yeah. Go ahead and give him a Pinocchio for not being INSANE.

Posted by: Jenn | February 22, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

AMANDA B. CARPENTER
Obama More Pro-Choice Than NARAL
Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) portrays himself as a
thoughtful Democrat who carefully considers
both sides of controversial issues, but his radical
stance on abortion puts him further left on that issue
than even NARAL Pro-Choice America.
In 2002, as an Illinois legislator, Obama voted
against the Induced Infant Liability Act, which
would have protected babies that survived late-term
abortions. That same year a similar federal law, the
Born Alive Infant Protection Act, was signed by
President Bush. Only 15 members of the U.S. House
opposed it, and it passed the Senate unanimously on
a voice vote.
Both the Illinois and the federal bill sought equal
treatment for babies who survived premature
inducement for the purpose of abortion and wanted
babies who were born prematurely and given lifesaving
medical attention.
When the federal bill was being debated, NARAL
Pro-Choice America released a statement that said,
"Consistent with our position last year, NARAL
does not oppose passage of the Born Alive Infants
Protection Act...floor debate served to clarify the
bill's intent and assure us that it is not targeted at
Roe v. Wade or a woman's right to choose."
But Obama voted against this bill in the Illinois
senate and killed it in committee. Twice, the Induced
Infant Liability Act came up in the Judiciary
Committee on which he served. At its first reading
he voted "present." At the second he voted "no."
The bill was then referred to the senate's Health and
Human Services Committee, which Obama chaired
after the Illinois Senate went Democratic in 2003. As
chairman, he never called the bill up for a vote.
Jill Stanek, a registered delivery-ward nurse who
was the prime mover behind the legislation after she
witnessed aborted babies' being born alive and left
to die, testified twice before Obama in support of
the Induced Infant Liability Act bills. She also testified
before the U.S. Congress in support of the Born
Alive Infant Protection Act.
Stanek told me her testimony "did not faze"
Obama.
In the second hearing, Stanek said, "I brought
pictures in and presented them to the committee of
very premature babies from my neonatal resuscitation
book from the American Pediatric Association,
trying to show them unwanted babies were being
cast aside. Babies the same age were being treated if
they were wanted!"
"And those pictures didn't faze him [Obama] at
all," she said.
At the end of the hearing, according to the official
records of the Illinois State senate, Obama thanked
Stanek for being "very clear and forthright," but
said his concern was that Stanek had suggested
"doctors really don't care about children who are
being born with a reasonable prospect of life
because they are so locked into their pro-abortion
views that they would watch an infant that is viable
die." He told her, "That may be your assessment,
and I don't see any evidence of that. What we are
doing here is to create one more burden on a woman
and I can't support that."
As a senator, Obama has opposed measures to
criminalize those who transport minors across state
lines for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.
At a townhall meeting in Ottawa, Ill., Joanne
Resendiz, a teacher and mother of five, asked him:
"How are you going to vote on this, keeping in mind
that 10, 15 years down the line your daughters, God
forbid, could be transported across state lines?"
Obama said: "The decision generally is one that a
woman should make."

Posted by: Bud | February 23, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

TOM FITTON
Barack Obama's Whitewater?
Washington pundits are excited for a potential
battle for the Democratic nomination for president
between the "fresh-faced" freshman senator
from Illinois, Barack Obama, and the consummate
political insider, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
However, new revelations about a corruption scandal
involving Obama suggest he may have more in
common with Hillary than he would like to admit.
As you may recall, in November, press reports surfaced
regarding a questionable land deal between
Obama and Antoin "Tony" Rezko, an indicted political
fundraiser. The long and the short of it is that
Obama approached Rezko with the idea to simultaneously
purchase adjoining lots in Southside Chicago.
Rezko obliged. Obama obtained his lot for a reduced
price. Rezko later sold a portion of his property to
Obama. All of this took place while Rezko was the
subject of a federal corruption investigation.
Political handicappers have begun to assess what
these revelations might mean to Obama's presidential
aspirations, but personally, I'm not interested in
the political fallout. The salient question ought to be
what do Obama's dealings with Rezko tell us, if anything,
about Obama's ethics.
First, Obama's dealings with Rezko reveal a
politician oblivious to the expectations of at least
the appearance of integrity for those in public office.
At the time Obama entered into his dubious land
deal, it was widely known that Rezko was the subject
of a federal investigation for allegedly trying to
collect nearly $6 million in kickbacks from government
deals. Obama and Rezko have been "friends"
since 1990. Obama knew about Rezko's shady reputation
and ought to have avoided the appearance
of impropriety.
Second, Obama's dealings with Rezko suggest, at
least, that Obama might be the kind of politician
willing to peddle his influence. The Chicago Tribune
reported that Obama purchased his land for
$300,000 less than the asking price, while Rezko's
wife paid full price for the adjoining lot from the
same owner. Did Mrs. Rezko partially subsidize the
purchase of Obama's new home? And what of the
subsequent sale of a section of the Rezko property to
Obama shortly thereafter?
Press reports suggest Rezko has raised as much as
$60,000 in campaign contributions for Obama.
What has he received in return for his generosity?
(Such relationships are never one-sided.) New revelations
surfaced recently indicating that Rezko was
successful in persuading Obama to award a coveted
internship with his Senate office to a Rezko business
associate. (Incidentally, the business associate, John
Armanda, has donated $11,500 to Obama's campaigns.)
Is there more to this story?
Third, Obama's dealings with Rezko suggest that
Obama may be willing to cast aside his professed
sense of ethics for personal financial gain. Obama,
through his dealings with an indicted political
fundraiser, was able to purchase his luxurious home
at a cut-rate price and expand his property. Obama
acknowledged the deal was a mistake, but only after
the media made hay of it.
In 1992, the Clintons came into the White House
despite evidence of their shady real estate dealings in
Arkansas, a scandal known as "Whitewater," setting
the tone for what would be the most corrupt presidency
in our nation's history. Is this Rezko land deal
Barack Obama's Whitewater? Let's find out sooner
than later.

Posted by: BC | February 23, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

AMANDA B. CARPENTER
Obama's Voting Record Belies Moderate
Image
In his televised response to President Bush's Iraq
speech, Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) told Larry
King he would be making his decision on a run for
the White House "fairly soon."
Obama's decision today to seek the Democratic
nomination will shine a spotlight on votes he made
during his six years in the Illinois Senate--before
coming to Washington, D.C., as a U.S. senator.
Explaining these votes could be uncomfortable for
Obama, who has never been made to answer for his
controversial decisions there.
In his race for the U.S. Senate, not a single negative
ad was run against him either during the sevenway
Democratic primary or in the general election,
in good part because Republican Jack Ryan unexpectedly
dropped out of the race after a court
unsealed embarrassing divorce documents that were
highly publicized by the media. As a result, Obama
faced weak Republican candidate Alan Keyes, who
quickly came under attack from the media and was
unable to act offensively in the campaign.
Now, basically untouched in these past political
campaigns, Obama will likely flaunt his media-created
image as a moderate Democrat capable of
embracing both conservative and liberal ideals. But,
as HUMAN EVENTS has shown in other articles,
no matter what lip service Obama gives to conservative
principles, at the end of the day he reliably
comes down on the liberal side.
Below are some votes Obama made as a state legislator
that pierce his moderate façade.
ABORTION
NO SB 230 (1997)
To prohibit partial-birth abortion unless necessary to save
the life of a mother and makes performance of the procedure
a Class 4 felony for the physician.
NO HB 709 (2000)
To prohibit state funding of abortion and induced miscarriages
except when necessary to save the life of the mother.
Excludes premature births from funding except to produce
a viable child when necessary to save the life of a
mother. Would permit funding in cases of rape or incest
when payment is authorized under federal law.
NO SB 1661 (2002)
A part of the Born Alive Infant Protection Package. Would
create a cause of action if a child is born alive after an abortion
and the child is then neglected through failure to provide
medial care after birth.
CRIME
NO SB 381 (1997)
To require prisoners to pay court costs for frivolous lawsuits
against the state.
NO SB 485 (1999)
To give no offer of "good time" for sex offenders sentenced
to the County Jail.
*Obama was the only vote against this measure
UNIONS
YES HB 3396 (2003)
To make unionization easier by not requiring a secret ballot
to organize if 50% of the eligible workers publicly sign a
card of support for unionization.
YES SB 230 (2003)
Entitles a teacher who is elected as an officer of the state or
national teacher's union to be granted a leave of absence for
up to six years, or the period of time the teacher is serving.
YES SB 1070 (2003)
Allows college graduate assistants who teach college
courses be eligible to join a union.
CHILD PROTECTION
PRESENT SB 609 (2001)
To restrict the location of buildings with "adult" uses
(meaning pornographic video stores, strip clubs, etc.) within
1,000 feet of any public or private elementary or second

Posted by: Anonymous | February 23, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

It would be a huge mistake for Obama to submit to Public Financing of the general election, since outside groups such as the "swift boaters" will spend millions in advertising dollars against him. As an Obama supporter, I pray that he will not give in to the pressure. Anyone with any good sense can see through this right wing political trick.

Posted by: Alan Robinson | February 23, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

if I want inspiration I'll go to church

hope is not a political platform and

Mr. Obama is a politician
in a way it reminds me of the Bush campaign....when questioned on specifics about competence or experience they'd point to various advisers or Cheney.

"don't want to be arguing about the same things 5 years from now"?
-??? we've been arguing about the same things for 200 years because there are really deep divisions.... Franklin/Jefferson vs Hamilton/adams etc....

but most of all international relations

and how about when the Russian tanks roll into Kosovo?

or the Iranians seize a couple of hundred of our people?

or a hundred other situations

and more than 50% of Americans don't go to college... an Anerican president has to LOVE them truly.... and speak to and for them...(something Kerry did not do at all)

these are the things that our next president has to deal with

hope???

a lot of drivel

Posted by: tk | February 23, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

What is troubling about this for Obama is that he is running on the "I'm not a double talking business as usual politician" like some one else in this race......Well, I guess when you put the pedal to the metal he is......

Posted by: JoAnne | February 24, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Is Club WaPo feeling snubbed? Was it smack-down time for Obama, because that upstart dared to go to that upstart, USAToday? After all the lengths WaPo has gone to to distinguish itself as the national paper for news of the 2008 race? For unjust infliction of two Pinocchios on Barack, the Fact Checker earns FOUR Pinocchios

Posted by: jhbyer | February 24, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

The USA Today op ed makes it clear (to me, at least) that Obama has reneged on his pledge to "aggressively pursue an agreement" on public financing.

Posted by: JakeD | February 25, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

What deeds? It's hard to be pegged as a liar when you have never done anything, but it appears Obama has managed it. Waffler, now liar.

Posted by: Chicago1 | February 26, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I thought you guys could read. Obama included the comment because his answer never was an unequivocal "Yes." In his answer to the questionnaire, he indicates teh difference even more firmly by saying McCain has agreed, then follows up with "...If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement..."

First Condition:
He has to BE THE NOMINEE.

Second Condition:
He has to REACH AGREEMENT WITH MCCAIN.

Is that so hard for you idiots to get? Christ, and you call yourselves fact checkers.

"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."

Posted by: rippermccord | February 26, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

One more thing, Mr. Dobbs. Obama's "pledge" comes in the form of a conditional statement -- that is: If (fill in the blank), then (fill in the blank). The fulfillment of the "then" clause" is always predicated on the fulfillment of the "If" part of the statement. That's not lawyer talk. That's sixth-grade grammar.

Go back to school and award yourself three Pinnochios for calling yourself a journalist. Two more for dubbing yourself "Fact Checker."

Posted by: rippermccord | February 26, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Based upon past Republican campaigns and the way McCain is back tracking on his current situation with promising to opt in then opting out I don't see any reason for Obama to believe that his campaign can reach an agreement with the McCain campaign. I got a better idea. Let's limit donations to $500 per person and let the free market prevail.

Posted by: bradcpa | February 27, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Fact Checker has stumbled here. Obama has not contradicted himself. All he has done is said that, his check in the 'Yes' box notwithstanding, this is a complicated issue which requires more than a simple 'yes' to resolve, and therefore he will, if nominated, hold talks with McCain. The 'Yes' is simply how he answers when given a yes/no choice; he wrote a paragraph of explanation to accompany it.

Posted by: Tommy | February 28, 2008 4:31 AM | Report abuse

Here is what I came up with from the Auston CNN debate based on the transcript as to who got the first question. Fact checker lumps CA and TX together and Im not sure how they got the numbers they did because Texas was 8/3 Clinton/Obama:
Jorge Ramos: Sit down with Raul Castro? Clinton
John King: Differences on economy? Obama
Jorge Ramos: Stop federal raids? Clinton
John King: Finish the fence? Clinton
Jorge Ramos: Bilingual country? Clinton
John King: Speeches vs. solutions? Clinton
Jorge Ramos: Ready to be commander-in-chief? Clinton
John King: Better off after the surge? Clinton
John King: Transparency? Obama
Jorge Ramos: Superdelegates? Clinton
Brown: Biggest crisis? Obama

The bias is so common we don't even notice it anymore. Our local paper featured an article about murals painted of all the candidates on a wall in a local town. Guess which mural was photgrahed and printed in the paper? Right, you got it.

Pres. Clinton and Barack Obama appeared ON THE SAME DAY AT THE SAME UNIVERSITY and Obama got 3X the coverage in local newspapers.

OK, I get that 'the coming of Obama' is infinitely interesting but claiming the media is unbiased is a crock. People have actually come up to me and said they have switched to Obama because the paper said Clinton cound not win. Shameful.

Posted by: redhiker | February 28, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I posted the above on the wrong fact checker blog!

Posted by: redhiker | February 28, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Considering the media has not only failed in their jobs the fact that they continue to do so should be a wake up call to the public.
I back Hillary 100% and will never throw my support behind obama. http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?i
d=aa0cd21b-0ff2-4329-88a1-69c6c268b304


The New Republic
Race Man by Sean Wilentz
How Barack Obama played the race card and blamed Hillary Clinton.
Post Date Wednesday, February 27, 2008
"Senator Barack Obama''s promises of a pure, soul-cleansing "new" politics and the calculated, deeply dishonest conduct of his actually-existing campaign."

"As insidious as these tactics are, though, the Obama campaign''s most effective gambits have been far more egregious and dangerous than the hypocritical deployment of deceptive and disingenuous attack ads. To a large degree, the campaign''s strategists turned the primary and caucus race to their advantage when they deliberately, falsely, and successfully portrayed Clinton and her campaign as unscrupulous race-baiters--a campaign-within-the-campaign in which the worked-up flap over the Somali costume photograph is but the latest episode. While promoting Obama as a "post-racial" figure, his campaign has purposefully polluted the contest with a new strain of what historically has been the most toxic poison in American politics."

"Above all, it is a commentary on the cutthroat, fraudulent politics that lie at the foundation of Obama''s supposedly uplifting campaign."

Posted by: sjl | February 28, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

This is not the first time Obama has been a flipflopper. His view on the war has not always been quite so firm against it, and he was even for shooting missiles at Iran.
http://www.trueobamafacts.com/2008/03/04/obama-%e2%80%9804-for-hitting-iran-even-pakistan/

Posted by: True Obama | March 14, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

If Obama supporters take off the rose colored glasses, they would find a flawed candidate who has a lot of show and no delivery.He has mislead on several issues such as this one, Wright, taking money from oil interests and other companies, his rise to prominence in Chicago and Rezko. He says he didn't support the war when his vote didn;t even count. He is the most liberal of Senators and can't pull his own party together. How will he pull the country together?

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All those attempting to make some case that Obama never pleadged, what do you not understand about the word YES?

http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/content/Questionnaire_Midwest_Democracy_Network_Obama_02192008.pdf

It should have been 4 Pinocchios.

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