Edwards to Accept Public Financing

ABC News' Raelyn Johnson Reports: As the end of the third quarter fundraising period draws to a close, former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., has announced that he intends to accept public financing for his bid for the Democratic nomination.

Edwards, who has severely lagged behind Clinton and Obama in fundraising, has not leaked his third quarter fundraising expectations, as he has done in previous quarters.

The campaign is saying this is not a red flag when it comes to his fundraising capabilities, but a step to curb the money in politics and make a statement about the influence of money.

In a statement released to the media, the Edwards campaign challenged Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., calling on her to join him now in accepting public financing and "ending the money game in Washington."

"You can't buy your way to the Democratic nomination –- you should have to earn the votes of the American people with bold vision and ideas," said David Bonior, Edwards' campaign manager.

"Senator Clinton said she believes public financing is the answer to ending the influence of lobbyists and special interests in Washington, Bonior said in the statement. "If she really believes that, she should join Senator Edwards and seek public financing, or she should explain to the American people why she does not mean what she says."

To be eligible for public financing, a candidate must prove to the Federal Election Commission their campaign has raised $100,000 by collecting $5,000 from any twenty states from contribution totaling no more than $250 each. 

Money for the public financing system comes from a fund paid for by taxpayers who agree to set aside $3 from their income taxes for the presidential account. Taking money from the fund means the candidate must comply with spending limits.

Edwards could get up to $21 million in public money for the primary, but his overall spending on the primary elections could not exceed about $50 million. Candidates eligible for public financing receive matching payments from the federal government for the first $250 of each individual contribution they raise. 

With files from the Associated Press.

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