Obama foregoes public funds for presidential campaign

June 20th, 2008 - 1:28 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 19 (DPA) Barack Obama Thursday said he would not accept government funds for the presidential election campaign, the first candidate to opt out since the system was established three decades ago. In a video message to supporters, Obama said it was “not an easy decision… But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken”.

Obama had already shattered previous records by raising more than $200 million for his campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination, and the new opt-out means he will not be held to an $80 million spending limit in the general election ahead of November.

His rival, Republican John McCain, has struggled to match Obama’s funding prowess and is expected to accept matching funds from the government for the election.

McCain’s campaign blasted Obama’s decision for weakening the public financing system and pointed to comments from Obama earlier in the year that he would be willing to accept matching funds if the Republicans did the same.

“Today, Barack Obama has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama,” Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker said in a statement.

Public financing has been in place since 1976, designed to limit the influence of money in presidential elections. But the system has been heavily criticised as non-affiliated groups have been able to raise and spend money far beyond the limits imposed on the candidates themselves.

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