WASHINGTON----I've obtained a copy of the talking points memo the Obama campaign team is distributing to supporters to explain why presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) did not honor his pledge to to meet with Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) to see if they could make a deal for both of them to use public money to bankroll their general election campaigns.
Most of the hand-wringing 886-word memo--blaming McCain--could be replaced with one simple, more candid talking point: Obama decided to change his mind.
Click below for the memo
From the Obama campaign....
Talking Points on Public Financing
Accepting public financing simply is not viable—McCain is already running a privately financed general election campaign
* It just isn’t viable for Barack Obama to take public financing, as John McCain has been running a privately financed general election campaign since February. In fact, by the time McCain accepts his party’s nomination, he will have run a privately funded general election campaign for seven months.
* McCain has been running ads in states where the primaries were held long ago—spending at levels exceeding $1 million a week.
* And McCain has made it clear that for the duration of this race the RNC will be a constant source of special interest and large-donation financing for his general election effort. At the same time, he’ made it clear that he’s not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups with millions and millions of dollars in soft money.
* But while John McCain has been free to raise and spend money virtually unopposed for five months, Barack Obama has been engaged in a contested primary until early this month.
* Under these circumstances it’s absurd for McCain to argue the virtues of a "publicly funded" general election campaign; he seems to mean a general election campaign funded on terms favorable to him, determined as he pleases. Make no mistake: his campaign will be operating on "public funding" only during the final two months—after his campaign and the RNC have raised and spent millions in private funds.
John McCain has been gaming the public financing system and has no credibility left on this issue
* John McCain entered into the matching fund system for the primaries, used his government funding certificate as collateral for a loan to his campaign—and he then unilaterally withdrew from the system to avoid the spending limits that the public funding system imposes.
* McCain abandoned his commitment despite a written warning from the Chairman of the FEC, who advised him that he could not, by law, just up and leave the system after extracting a benefit and meeting none of his legal obligations.
* Why did McCain disregard the spending limits? Simply because he wanted the benefit of unlimited financing, using unrestricted "primary" money for a de facto general election campaign. In fact, the day he announced he was unilaterally pulling out of the system was
the day after Super Tuesday—the day he became the presumptive nominee and began his general election effort.
Obama has achieved the system’s goals by bringing record-breaking numbers of small donors into the process
* Obama’s decision not to participate in the public financing system wasn’t an easy one—especially because he supports a robust system of public financing of elections. But Obama is asking his supporters to build the first general election campaign that’s truly funded by the American people—not the big donors and the special interests. That was always the intention of the public financing system, and it’s a goal we fully embrace.
* Obama supporters have built an unprecedented movement for change, with more than 1.5 millions Americans giving. And they’ve done it without taking a dime from the Washington lobbyists and special interests PACs. They’ve already changed the way campaigns are funded, because they know that’s the only way we can truly change how Washington works. And that’s the path we will continue in this general election.
Obama wants to fix a system that is no longer effective—John McCain apparently doesn’t
* Barack Obama understands that the public financing system is broken, and he’s co-sponsored legislation to fix the problem: but McCain has not signed onto the bill. The bill, introduced with Senator Feingold, would improve the system by increasing funding for the both the primary and general elections and building into the system flexibility that it does not now have. That would go a long way to making the system viable.
* For all of his talk about campaign finance reform, McCain is unwilling to support measures to fix the problem. In fact, Common Cause says McCain "has distanced himself" from the idea of publicly funded campaigns now that he’s the Republican nominee.
* We all know that that the system needs to be fixed—but we need a leader who will do more than talk about solutions. Barack Obama is committed to real reform. As president, he’ll finally fix the system and make sure that presidential campaigns are in the hands of the American people, not the big donors and special interests—something he’s already accomplished in this race.
QUESTION AND ANSWER
Q: Obama said he would aggressively pursue a campaign finance agreement with his opponent. Did he do so? Why did those efforts fail?
A: Counsel from the two campaigns did meet, but it was immediately clear that an agreement wouldn’t be workable. The idea of an agreement on public financing was to limit the influence of special interests and big donors on the campaign—but after the
McCain campaign decided to manipulate the system, and given that they had already been spending private money on their general election campaign for months, it was readily apparent that an agreement would only serve to give McCain, the RNC, and Republican 527s a leg up.