In 2008, President Barack Obama first pledged to finance his campaign with public money and later changed his mind, deciding he needed more money. That decision didn’t sit well with Obama’s Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, says Trevor Potter, head lawyer for McCain’s Republican presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008, Politico
“What happened to [McCain] was, he — I think he feels he got mugged first by the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, who walked away from the public financing of the general election, and then by the press, who let Obama get away with it,” Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, told the news service.
McCain “felt the principle there wasn’t the political reality of who could raise more money. It was his belief in the importance of a public funding system, which he thought Obama shared, until he didn’t share it,” Potter said. “The result of all of that is that we now don’t have a functioning presidential public financing system. And that’s, I think, bad news for the country.”
Neither Obama nor the leading Republican presidential candidates are expected to opt for public funding this time around. Potter sees big outside money gaining influence in 2012, and he’s upset about the growth of super PACs.
“That’s a problem because, going back to the Watergate years, the Congress has felt there should be limits on how much candidates could receive from any one individual so they’re not indebted to them or corrupted by them, and that’s something the Supreme Court has upheld,” Potter said.
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