Obama's Opt Out Of Public Funding: Will Voters Buy His Reasons?


Barack Obama faced a difficult choice for the fall campaign.

He could follow through on his commitment to strike a deal with John McCain on remaining within the public financing system for the general election, or he could opt out of the system and cash in on the huge financial advantage he has displayed over John McCain.

His advisers know they can raise at least twice as much as the $84-million the public system would provide.

Obama's advisers chose the latter; the financial edge, rare for a Democrat to enjoy, was simply too attractive to pass up. But now the Obama campaign must take the heat from John McCain and from the press for breaking his commitment.

I attended a press breakfast with two representatives of the Obama campaign this morning. Communications Director Robert Gibbs and legal counsel Bob Bauer insisted it was fruitless to seek an agreement with McCain because he has indicated he will "game the system" to get help from outside groups in addition to the public system.

We'll see if Obama--who has run, like McCain, as a straight-talking reformer--can make that explanation sound persuasive with voters. It won't be easy.

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