Obama embraces Super PACs he decried

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein

In his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama decried the "the corrosive influence of money in politics," but today his campaign announced it was fully embracing so-called "super PACs" as part of his reelection effort.

In a Monday night statement, campaign manager Jim Messina announced:

With so much at stake, we can't allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.

Therefore, the campaign has decided to do what we can, consistent with the law, to support Priorities USA in its effort to counter the weight of the GOP Super PAC. We will do so only in the knowledge and with the expectation that all of its donations will be fully disclosed as required by law to the Federal Election Commission.

What this change means practically: Senior campaign officials as well as some White House and Cabinet officials will attend and speak at Priorities USA fundraising events. While campaign officials may be appearing at events to amplify our message, these folks won't be soliciting contributions for Priorities USA. I should also note that the President, Vice President, and First Lady will not be a part of this effort; their political activity will remain focused on the President's campaign.

But here's what this doesn't change: the fact that ordinary people stepping up to take control of the political process is essential to our strategy.

The decision echoed Obama's reversal during the 2008 campaign to abandon the public financing system he once supported in order to gain a political advantage. It also runs counter to the entire last-ditch election strategy of Democrats in 2010. At an October 2010 rally, Obama blasted undisclosed contributions to such groups. "(T)hat’s not just a threat to Democrats, that’s a threat to our democracy," he declared.

Democrats on the Hill have also pushed the issue of "Super PACs," with Schumer holding a press conference on it just last week to say, "It doesn't pass the smell test to say some of these groups aren't coordinated." Schumer said the Senate would hold Rules committee hearings on the PACs this month. We'll see what happens now.

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Philip Klein

Commentary Editor
The Washington Examiner