Kondracke falsely claimed Obama would be "violating a promise" by "forgoing public financing ... between now and August"

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

On The Beltway Boys, Mort Kondracke conflated primary election and general election funding, falsely asserting that Sen. Barack Obama will be "violating a promise" if he "forgo[es] public financing ... between now and August" -- that is, during the primary. In fact, Obama did not pledge to accept public funds during the primary, and long ago opted out of public financing for the primary election. Rather, he has said that he will attempt to reach an agreement with Sen. John McCain to use public financing in the general election.

On the February 23 edition of Fox News' The Beltway Boys, co-host and Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke conflated primary election and general election funding, falsely asserting that Sen. Barack Obama will be "violating a promise" if he "forgo[es] public financing ... between now and August" -- that is, during the primary. In fact, Obama did not pledge to accept public funds during the primary, and long ago opted out of public financing for the primary election. Regarding the general election, Obama wrote in response to a Midwest Democracy Network questionnaire, issued in September 2007: "If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

Obama recently confirmed in a February 20 USA Today op-ed that "I will aggressively pursue such an agreement if I am my party's nominee," and added:

I do not expect that a workable, effective agreement will be reached overnight. The campaign-finance laws are complex, and filled with loopholes that can render meaningless any agreement that is not solidly constructed.

[...]

I propose a meaningful agreement in good faith that results in real spending limits. The candidates will have to commit to discouraging cheating by their supporters; to refusing fundraising help to outside groups; and to limiting their own parties to legal forms of involvement. And the agreement may have to address the amounts that Senator McCain, the presumptive nominee of his party, will spend for the general election while the Democratic primary contest continues.

Kondracke made the remark while suggesting that if Obama broke the "promise," he would put McCain at a disadvantage, because McCain "may be forced to ... keep getting public financing all of the way through his convention in September," and would therefore not be able to spend as much money as Obama. However, Kondracke did not provide a major reason why McCain "may be forced" to use public funds until the Republican National Convention. As the Associated Press reported on February 21, Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason has said that McCain may not be allowed to leave the public financing system if it is found that he "use[d] the promise of public money to help secure a $4 million line of credit he obtained in November [2007]," when his campaign was low on funds. As Media Matters for America has documented, McCain entered into a loan contract in which he agreed to remain a candidate under certain circumstances, even if he had no chance of winning, to qualify for public money to pay back the loan.

From the February 23 edition of Fox News' The Beltway Boys:

KONDRACKE: Now, there's one other problem that McCain may have, and that's money. He may be forced to take -- to keep getting public financing all of the way through his convention in September, which doesn't leave him a lot of money. Meanwhile, Barack Obama, violating a promise if he does it, is talking about forgoing public financing, which is going to give him oodles of money --

FRED BARNES (co-host): Yeah.

KONDRACKE: -- to spend between now and August.

BARNES: Yeah, money is important, but a snooze.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Mort Kondracke
Show/Publication
The Beltway Boys
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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