McCain: "We will take public financing"

Thursday morning, Barack Obama announced his intention to opt out of the public financing system; later in the day, John McCain said he'll opt in.

Published June 19, 2008 10:17PM (EDT)

Despite his opponent's announcement that he will opt out of a system that provides public financing for presidential candidates, John McCain said Thursday that he'll do what political observers had expected of him and take public financing for his campaign.

According to a pool report written by a Wall Street Journal reporter accompanying McCain today, when asked if he had made a decision about whether to take the public money, McCain said, "We will take public financing." Asked for the rationale behind the decision, "Because we decided to take public financing."

This means that McCain will receive more than $80 million in public money, which is collected in $3 increments from taxpayers who choose to contribute. But it also means he has to abide by spending limits that will put his campaign at a distinct disadvantage financially when placed up against the fundraising behemoth that has been Barack Obama's campaign.

McCain did opt out of the public financing system for the primaries after early victories helped him raise money and fill what had been empty coffers. As Salon's Mike Madden detailed in this space on Tuesday, Democrats aren't happy about that decision. They allege that in taking a loan partially secured by a pledge to accept federal funding if it became necessary to do so, he essentially opted in. Spending limits come with such a decision, and McCain has spent more than allowed under those limits. This, Democrats say, means McCain is breaking the law.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz.