Obama Opts Out of Public Financing

Candidate says he will forgo public financing in order to fend off private attack groups.
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Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) shocked the political world with his ability to raise funds over the Internet and build a homegrown political machine -- ask Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.).

He surprised the political world again Thursday morning when his campaign released a video message from the Senator saying that he plans to forego public financing. This news comes contrary to early promises in favor of the system.

Obama said to supporters:

"It's not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections. 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."

Various 527 groups and local Republican committees have already run Internet ads attacking Obama. Common themes have been his former Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his patriotism and even his wife Michelle.

Obama's campaign now has a Web site to respond to attacks:

fightthesmears.com

. Also, he has asked his supporters not to fund democratic 527 groups, such as MoveOn.org. MoveOn and a variety of unions have already announced intentions to run ads tying Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) as an heir to President George Bush. Obama's campaign prefers to control the message of the campaign, even taking the step of transplanting some of the Democratic National Committee's offices to Chicago in recent weeks.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama had raised $265 million through April 2008. The deadline for the May reports is Friday. Obama presently has $46 million in cash on hand, much of which he has amassed from nearly 2 million small donors who have given money to his campaign already -- a record number at this point in the campaign. Furthermore, some media reports have predicted he may raise over a $100 million in June with the addition of Clinton's fundraisers.

Obama has significantly outraised Sen. John McCain. McCain's finances have improved of late, but he trails Obama by a wide margin. Through April, McCain had collected $96 million with $23 million in cash on hand.

McCain's campaign did not respond to requests for comment.