Despite his previous pledge to enter into the public financing system should he be the Democratic presidential nominee,* Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has recently been reluctant to re-commit to entering the system.
This reluctance has coincided with his primary, caucus, and fundraising successes. For that reluctance, Obama has been hammered as hypocritical by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., not to mention impartial observers.
Tonight at a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., at the National Museum of Women in the Arts -- at a $2,300-per-person event for 200 people held before a $1,000-per-person reception for 350 people -- Obama previewed his argument to justify this possible future discarding of a principle.
"We have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide if they want to support a campaign they can get on the Internet and finance it, and they will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally been reserved for the wealthy and the powerful," Obama said.
Do you buy it?
* UPDATE: The pledge I am referring to came last September in Obama's answers to a questionnaire by the Midwest Democracy Network.
The question was: "If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?"
Obama checked: "Yes" and wrote:
"In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."
The Washington Post's Fact Checker, the esteemed Michael Dobbs, has given Mr. Obama two Pinnochios for the campaign's attempt to claim this was not a pledge to enter into the public financing system. "Obama's affirmative answer to the Midwest Democracy Network seems unequivocal," Dobbs writes. "Now that Obama is raising $1 million a day, his enthusiasm for public financing appears to have waned."