Sen. McCain declares public financing ‘dead’

Sen. John McCain, in an interview in The Washington Times, declares the presidential public financing system ‘dead.’

"No Republican in his or her right mind is going to agree to public financing. I mean, that’s dead. That is over. The last candidate for president of the United States from a major party that will take public financing was me," McCain said.

McCain’s comments reveal an opposition grounded more in sour grapes over Obama’s abandonment of public financing than principle, but McCain’s reversal is welcome whatever the reason.

In a speech last week on the Senate floor, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell attacked a public financing proposal for congressional campaigns as a ‘bailout for politicians.’ McConnell noted that support for the presidential system has steadily plummeted, and in 2007 only 8 percent of taxpayers decided to help fund the program.

McCain’s latest comments don’t reference the congressional system, although one would hope that he would also oppose that welfare for politicians scheme. If Republicans like McCain, who have supported past campaign finance regulations, decline to support this bill, its chances will dwindle significantly. Sen. Arlen Specter is the only Republican mentioned as sponsoring the bill so far. The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Dick Durbin was supposed to introduce it last week, but the rollout has been delayed.