Less limit on public election funds

John Dimsdale Feb 18, 2008
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Less limit on public election funds

John Dimsdale Feb 18, 2008
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TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: We’ve got presidential primaries tomorrow in Wisconsin and Hawaii. None of the top candidates are running publicly-financed primary campaigns. With public financing, a limited amount of fundraising is matched by taxpayer’s money. Now in return, there’re strict fundraising limits.

Ever since Watergate, major candidates have accepted public financing in the general election. Well, this year could be different, as John Dimsdale reports.


John Dimsdale: Campaign finance reformer John McCain last week opted out of public finance limits for the primaries.

Steve Weisman at the Campaign Finance Institute says the switch reflects the reversal of McCain’s financial prospects.

Steve Weisman: McCain wanted to consider the option when he couldn’t raise enough money. But the primary victories have enabled him now to raise so much money that he says, “Why should I accept these spending limits?”

A year ago, Senators McCain and Barack Obama signed a pledge to accept the public financing limit of $85 million in the general election if their opponent does the same. Now, Obama has backtracked, saying only that he’ll work with McCain to lay out ground rules if they are the nominees.

Trevor Potter, legal counsel to the McCain campaign, says Obama’s change reflects a reversal of his financial prospects.

Trevor Potter: He’s discovered he can raise a great deal of money, and might be able to raise much more than the $85 million he can spend in the system.

So far, Senator Hillary Clinton has not committed to public financing limits in the general election.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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