Obama Opts Out

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Senator Barack Obama (D) has decided to opt out of the partial public financing system for the general presidential election, the first candidate to do so since the system was adopted. He is expected to have a fundraising advantage over Republican rival John McCain. In response to Obama's decision, Public Campaign Action Fund has released this statement.

Here's what Obama has to day about his decision to opt out:

"It's not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections," Obama told supporters in a video message Thursday. "But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system."

Obama said McCain and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and political action committees.

"And we've already seen that he's not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations," Obama said.

Nick Nyhart and David Donnelly of Public Campaign Action Fund issued this joint statement:


"We have long maintained that presidential candidates would make a decision to opt in or out of the presidential system not on what they thought about public financing but what put them in a position to win in November. That's why we find Sen. Obama's decision to forego public financing for the general election regrettable but understandable in light of the tens of millions of dollars that will be raised and spent outside the system attacking him. We agree with Sen. Obama that the system is broken and badly needs an overhaul.

"We have also long argued that the most important test of a candidate's commitment to reform is what he or she would do if elected to fix this broken system. With his decision, Sen. Obama now has a special obligation to make passage of comprehensive public financing of all federal elections a priority if elected. His decision today is not one that furthers reform in the short run, but his actions as president, should he win, could end the cash-and-carry system of paying for campaigns. His long-standing support for public financing and his ground-breaking small donor fundraising indicates that he is up to this challenge, but we urge him and his campaign to be clear about that commitment today and in the coming weeks and months. We have every intention to hold him accountable."