Obama’s alleged “broken promise”

October 29, 2008 at 8:43 pm (broken promise) (, , , , )

The Obama campaign’s alleged promise to accept public financing rather than turn to private donations is the proverbial ‘tempest in a teapot’. John McCain knew back in 2007 that he would have trouble raising funds unless he took money from big corporations and their lobbyists. But, because this would have conflicted with his manufactured “maverick” image and the idea that he was no longer the same John McCain who supported Charles Keating, he hoisted himself on his own petard and opted for the limited funds of public financing. He tried to elicit a promise from Obama in the early days of the campaign to do the same, and Obama said he would consider a commitment to public financing of his campaign.

But, at that time, Obama had no idea that his candidacy would turn into a movement, or that his campaign would have the potential to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from individual contributors. When he first announced his candidacy, I don’t think Obama had any idea that he would be where he is today. There were just too many obstacles in his path: the first African-American candidate, the formidable candidacy of Hilliary Clinton, and the well-known power and tactics of the incumbent party. In light of that, nobody should be surprised that Barack Obama concluded that the only way he could win this election was to raise enough money to offset the Republican Party and its fringe “swift-boat” organizations which would surely come after him.

As luck would have it, the economy tanked and those right wing groups have been unable to finance any kind of meaningful assault during this election. McCain had hoped that choosing a right wing ideologue like Sarah Palin as his running-mate would motivate the swift-boaters to come to his campaign’s rescue, but they obviously have felt that it would be throwing away money to support a candidate whom they didn’t even like in the first place.

The main reason people like Campbell Brown on CNN are bringing up this supposed “broken promise” to John McCain is because Obama is poised to run his 30-minute campaign commercial. CNN won’t run it. No candidate has ever been able to do anything like that before because no candidate has ever inspired this many voters to reach into their pockets and contribute to a campaign.

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