Monday, February 18, 2008

Capital Gang on Campaign Finance

The Capital Gang, a group of journalists that used to have a show on CNN, visited Tim Russert on Meet the Press yesterday.  In this web exclusive, Russert asked the gang if Obama should accept public funds for the general election (question is at the 10:25 mark).  Mark Shields, Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson said he should.  Bob Novak said he shouldn't and Kate O'Beirne said it didn't matter because voters don't pay attention to campaign finance issues. 

Shield's main case for refusing the funds was that Obama made a pledge to do so and would be hurt by McCain if he recanted now.  Hunt also said that refusing the funds wouldn't hinder Obama's campaign that much because the Democratic Party and 527 organizations will be able to raise money for the general election and buy the commercial time that Obama would have bought himself.  Carlson felt that he had to refuse the funds to stay true to himself and consistent with the image he has put fourth for the entire campaign.

Novak believes that public campaign financing has been a disaster and thinks those who want Obama to accept public funds also want the Treasury Department to fund all elections, which he is against.  I don't think this argument is very credible; every major party presidential nominee since 1976 has accepted the general election grant, and yet there has not been a large-scale expansion of public campaign financing.

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