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11-18-2008-5-04-46-pm
It was likely that Barack Obama genuinely believed that he would take or have to take public financing. But when the primary was unexpectedly extended, the Obama team saw their money raising potential – and more they knew they were going to need fist fulls of it – if they were going to have any real chance of defeating the Republican election machine. With Al Gore’s loss in 2000 and Kerry’s Swift-Boating back in 2004 – they concluded that public financing would place serious limits on their ability to act. And they were right. John McCain promised to run an honorable campaign, and without adequate finance – Obama would likely not be President-elect – as was McCain’s plan. It is doubtful that in 2012 the Republicans will allow themselves to be hamstrung by public financing either. They might be moaning right now – but they are also learning. It was just a little TKO!

President-elect Barack Obama and vanquished rival John McCain talked Monday about reforming parts of the political process, but they skipped a good governance issue of mutual interest over which they sparred bitterly during their campaign: fixing the public financing system.

Obama this summer said he was “firmly committed to reforming the system as president,” even as his reversal of a pledge to participate in it drew fire from McCain, editorial boards and campaign finance reform advocates, all of whom accused Obama of virtually killing the system.

Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team, said Obama and McCain “share a common belief that the system needs to be reformed,” but she said “they didn’t speak about it today.”

Instead, a different Obama aide said, the discussion focused on “a common sense of reform being needed” on government spending, earmarks, military procurement, corporate welfare, climate change, immigration and Guantanamo Bay, among other areas.

McCain’s Senate and campaign staffers did not respond to questions about why campaign finance reform wasn’t discussed, but it clearly is a sore point for the Arizona senator and his team. They believe Obama was never held to account for his public funding flip-flop, which put him at a huge cash advantage over McCain in the final months of the campaign.

McCain did participate in the system, which limits candidates to spending only the amount of a taxpayer-funded grant. This year, the grant was $84 million for the general election. Meanwhile, Obama’s historic fundraising effort pulled in well more than $640 million for the primary and the general, allowing him to dramatically outspend McCain on ads, offices and get-out-the-vote efforts.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, McCain blamed Obama’s rejection of public financing and his prolific fundraising for “completely breaking whatever idea we had after Watergate to keep the costs and spending on campaigns under control.”

McCain told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace in October that Obama had “unleashed now in presidential campaigns a new flood of spending that will then cause a scandal and then we will fix it again. But Sen. Obama has broken it. And he broke his word to me and the American people when he signed a piece of paper, when he was a long-shot candidate, that he would take public financing if I would.”

That was a reference to a questionnaire Obama submitted last year to a coalition of non-profit groups advocating a reduction in the role of money in politics.

The questionnaire, from the Midwest Democracy Network, asked, “If you are nominated for president in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?”

Obama answered “Yes.” Then, in the space provided for comments, he wrote: “I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests.”

In response to another question, Obama wrote that he supported strengthening the public financing system, which was enacted after Watergate to minimize the corrupting influence of money on electoral politics.

Obama’s policy advisors still consider it a priority to revamp the public financing system, according to David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch, a non-profit group that pushes for stricter campaign finance rules.

Obama’s “priorities Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are the economy, but I don’t think his commitment to (public financing) has changed,” said Donnelly. Still, Donnelly added “it’s important for him to take up this issue and show that he’s willing to follow through on his commitment.”

If Obama does champion campaign finance reform from the White House, McCain could be a key ally in Senate, predicted Donnelly, whose group during the campaign accused McCain of backing away from the issue.

McCain’s seminal legislative accomplishment was a 2002 overhaul of the campaign finance system, and for years before and after that, he sponsored legislation to revamp the public funding system. But Donnelly and other McCain critics accused McCain of shying away from campaign reform as he positioned himself for his 2008 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

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MIAMI (AP) — With two days remaining until Election Day, Jay-Z and Sean “Diddy” Combs told voters in South Florida not to be scared away from the polls by long lines.

“It’s bigger than us,” Combs said. “We have to do it for our children, we have to do it for the people that died for us to have the right to vote.”

Combs and Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, appeared before a crowd of about 800 at the Chester Robinson Athletic Center at Florida Memorial University for a “Last Chance for Change” rally Sunday afternoon.

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, music executive Kevin Liles and fellow recording artist Mary J. Blige also joined them at the get-out-the-vote effort for Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

“We stood in line to get the new Lil’ Wayne CD,” Liles said. “We stood in line to get a new pair of Jordans. We stood in line to get in here. So we ain’t afraid of no lines.”

The event was more of a campaign rally than hip-hop extravaganza. None of the artists actually performed on stage, instead using their time to stump for the Democratic nominee. A DJ played as the crowd waited for the group to arrive, and a gospel choir and college step teams also performed.

“We have been doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result,” Blige said. “Please do something different. Barack Obama is a true example of something different. He’s a true example of something our children can have in the future, what they can look at and say: ‘Wow, we can really, really do something. We can really, really be something.'”

When an announcer asked if anyone in the crowd had already voted, several attendees threw their hands in the air, waved blue campaign signs and screamed.

More than 2 million of Florida’s 11.2 million registered voters had already cast their ballots by Sunday morning, according to the state Division of Elections Web site. As of Saturday in Miami-Dade County, more than 300,000 had gone to the polls, according to county statistics. Early voting in the state ended Sunday.

Combs, who bounced on stage wearing an Obama T-shirt and sunglasses, has long worked to increase young voter turnout. Four years ago, he was part of the “Vote or Die” campaign and launched the nonpartisan group Citizen Change.

“I think we just really reinforced what they already knew,” Jay-Z said after the event. “It energized them.”

One attendee, 36-year-old Rebecca Vaughns, said Election Day would be especially sweet for her. The Miami resident, who was wearing a black Obama T-shirt and had a likeness of the nominee shaved in the back of her head, said she had been saving a giant chocolate “O” in her freezer for months, waiting for Nov. 4.

“It’s not about black or white,” Vaughn’s said, “It’s about the fact that this country is in a hole.”

Fort Lauderdale resident Joyce Downing, 53, sat in the back of the stuffy arena before the rally started, wearing a red Obama T-shirt. Downing said she waited five hours a week ago to vote in an election she called an “awakening.”

“Although I’ve voted as long as I’ve been eligible, this is the most exciting election I’ve been able to participate in,” she said.

Source: AP

What was not cleared up in this video – was that the Obama campaign paid a group called Citizen Services the $800,000 to register people to vote – who then subcontracted Acorn in a few States for around $80,000. You can see this here* when Bertha Lewis talks again about Acorn on CSPAN.

The trouble is that they have to submit every form regardless of whether or not they feel that the form was not filled out honestly. Their policy is to telephone or contact the voter at least 3 times to verify the registration.

When workers are paid to go out and get people registered – some people will sit home – or sit somewhere – and simply fraudulently fill out the forms. Acorn has taken action against people who have done just that – and if you’re working to get over 1M people registered – showing that there is a problem with 0.01% of these forms is not a bad feat – and many of these Acorn has flagged as fraudulent or suspicious themselves.

*CSPAN: Bertha Lewis, ACORN, interviewed by Alexander Burns, The Politico, & Chris Good, The Hill