The McCain campaign fired back: “Today, Barack Obma has revealed himself to be just another typical politician who will do and say whatever is most expedient for Barack Obama,” wrote communications director Jill Hazelbaker in a statement. “The true test of a candidate for president is whether he will stand on principle and keep his word to the American people. Barack Obama has failed that test today, and his reversal of his promise to participate in the public financing system undermines his call for a new type of politics.”
During the primaries, Obama had said that if he won the nomination, he would meet with McCain to work out a fair way to finance the campaigns. The meeting did not take place.
Robert Bauer, general counsel to the Obama campaign, said at the breakfast that he met with his counterpart on the McCain campaign, Trevor Potter, but by the time they met, it was clear to him the McCain campaign was already well into its own private-funding plan in conjunction with the Republican National Committee (RNC).
“There comes a point where it’s so obvious it’s merely a messaging effort and not a good-faith effort to meet us on competitive terms,” Mr. Bauer said. “It’s not clear what there was to talk about.”
In alleging in his video that the McCain campaign has become a master “at gaming this broken system,” Obama slammed his opponent and the RNC for accepting donations from lobbyists and political action committees. He also scored McCain for not stopping attacks from 527 groups.
The Obama campaign officials acknowledged that 527s operate, by law, independently of the candidates, but they said the candidates can still make it clear when they disapprove of the groups’ activities. When McCain said last week that “I can’t be a referee of every spot run on television,” Bauer said, that effectively gave a “green light” to 527 activities.
Bauer also accused McCain of pretending to have the option of a publicly funded general-election campaign, while privately doing aggressive fundraising during the months between securing the GOP nomination in February and his party’s convention in September.